Dear Representatives Trone and Reschenthaler,
I am writing on behalf of the members of the Fraternal Order of Police to advise you of our support for
H.R. 7568, the “Public Safety Officer Support Act.” This legislation would expand the eligibility of
certain officers or their surviving family for death and disability benefits as provided for by the Public
Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) program.
The brave men and women serving our communities as law enforcement officers put themselves in
harm’s way on a daily basis. As a profession, we are doing a very good job at protecting our officers’
physical safety by providing them with tools like anti-ballistic body armor, but far too often we have
failed to recognize or address the tremendous mental stress our officers endure as a consequence of their
Law enforcement and other public safety officers face a 25.6 times higher risk of developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than those in other professions and some statistics suggest that a law
enforcement officer will experience more traumatic events in six months than the average person will
experience in a lifetime. While we are improving as a profession, mental wellness services are too often
unavailable to these officers, which leads to a greater risk for long-term mental health consequences. We
believe that law enforcement suicides are underreported, but to the best of our knowledge, 228 officers
took their own lives in 2019—outstripping the 147 line of duty deaths for that year.
Your legislation provides that a diagnosis of PTSD and similar mental health-related issues will be
presumed to “constitute personal injury” as defined in the PSOB statute. The bill further establishes a
presumption that an officer who dies by suicide or is disabled by PTSD or an attempt to commit suicide is
a “direct and proximate result” of their service as a law enforcement or other public safety officer, absent
competent psychological or medical evidence to the contrary. The legislation establishes that an officer
with PTSD is to be considered disabled for the purposes of the PSOB disability benefit if the officer is
“unable to serve as a public safety officer in the same or substantially similar role” prior to being disabled.
This bill, at long last, addresses what we have known for many years—that long-term exposure to mental
stress and traumatic events over the course of service can inflict “invisible injuries” on the men and
women in law enforcement. The fact is that severe PTSD is just as disabling as a physical injury and an
officer who suffers from this or a similar disorder that may result in suicide is just as service-connected as
a line-of-duty death. We believe this legislation shows compassion and support for our officers and their
families and that it provides another step in building support for officers facing mental wellness crises.
On behalf of the more than 351,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, I am deeply grateful to you
both for your support and leadership on this important issue. I am proud to strongly support this
legislation and look forward to working with you to move it through Congress. If I can provide any
additional information or support on this issue, please feel free to contact me or Executive Director Jim
Pasco in my Washington office.