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Changes to state law address post-traumatic stress disorder

Minnesotans in certain occupations are at particular risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). First responders, such as firefighters, police officers and those who provide emergency medical services both in the field and emergency rooms see things every day that few people can -- or want to -- imagine. So do those who work in correctional facilities.

This year, state lawmakers passed a bill that helps employees in professions with a high risk for PTSD who have been diagnosed with the condition by a licensed psychologist or doctor receive workers' compensation benefits. This change will be effective at the beginning of 2019.

The law will now consider PTSD a "presumptive" occupational disease for those who work in these fields, unless they already have a history of the disorder. However, under the new law, an employee won't qualify for workers' compensation benefits for PTSD "if it results from a disciplinary action, work evaluation, job transfer, layoff, demotion, promotion, termination, retirement, or similar action taken in good faith by the employer."

We all rely on public safety and medical personnel to be available when we and others need them and to do the jobs that most of us couldn't (or wouldn't) do under any circumstances. However, we often take for granted the emotional toll that this work takes on them.

While PTSD isn't as easy to see or prove as physical workplace illnesses and injuries are, more is becoming known and understood about the disorder all the time. If you are suffering from PTSD due to either the regular responsibilities of your job or an isolated incident that occurred in the workplace, like a shooting or armed robbery, it's essential to seek the benefits you deserve as you get the treatment you need.

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