Bill that would help firefighters with PTSD nears final stages

JACKSON, Tenn. — The lives of first responders could be changed for the better as one bill is in the final stages of approval.


The James “Dustin” Samples Act was approved by the Tennessee General Assembly on April 21, and it could have the power to offer the help professional Tennessee firefighters need when affected by PTSD.

“James ‘Dustin’ Samples Act was named after James ‘Dustin’ Samples. He was a Cleveland, Tennessee firefighter for 20 some odd years and lost his life due to suicide back in December of 2020,” said Matthew Tomek, the President of the Tennessee Professional Fire Fighters Association. “This bill creates a presumption that a firefighter diagnosed with PTSD under certain conditions will be presumed to have been a job-related illness.”

In a news release, Samples’ wife, Jennifer Samples stated in part:

“I know the funding of the James ‘Dustin’ Samples Act will continue to build awareness, support, and resources to those who have experienced unspeakable traumas. By passing this bill, the Tennessee General Assembly has shown that it is okay to reach out for help and Tennessee supports those who protect them every day.”

“The next step for the bills is going to the governor’s desk and getting his approval and his signature, and then once that takes place, the bill will be made law. And it should take affect Jan. 1, 2024,” said Corey Bradford, the President of the Jackson Firefighters Association.

Currently, the bill only covers professional Tennessee firefighters, but Bradford hopes that over time, other agencies in the first responder world, like police departments and volunteer fire departments, will be able to have amendments.

Find more quotes on this bill here.

You can also follow the bill’s progress through the Tennessee General Assembly here.

Find more local news here.

Categories: Local News, News, Tennessee News, Video