May 26, 2022

Duckworth, Cornyn Applaud Senate Judiciary Committee for Passing Bipartisan Bill to Support Families of Public Safety Officers


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) today applauded the U.S. Senate Committee on Judiciary for passing their bipartisan Public Safety Officer Support Act to support the families of officers who struggle with their mental health or who are lost to trauma-linked suicides. The House companion to this legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week.

“It’s a tragedy that the families of the police officers and first responders who died by suicide after putting their own safety on the line to keep us safe are struggling to get their loved ones’ deaths to be recognized as deaths in the line of duty,” Duckworth said. “I’m proud this important legislation—after passing the House last week—swiftly passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, bringing us closer to providing so many grieving families with the acknowledgement and support they need after such tragic losses. I hope we can get this to the Senate floor as soon as possible for a full vote.”

“The trauma law enforcement endure in service to their neighbors can take a heavy toll on their mental health, and they must be able to access the services they need to process what they experience,” Cornyn said. “In addition to increasing access to mental health care, this legislation will ensure the families of officers who take their own lives as a result of their very difficult work receive the benefits they are due, and I look forward to voting on this in the full Senate as soon as possible.”

Currently, families struggle to receive the benefits they deserve because federal law limits the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) program to only cover physical injuries—completely excluding any support for mental health concerns. While the U.S. military already recognizes suicides by servicemembers as deaths in the line of the duty, the PSOB does not.

The Public Safety Officer Support Act would create an avenue for families of officers by directing the PSOB to treat work-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), acute stress disorder and other trauma and stress-disorders as a line of duty injury for eligible officers as well as those who are permanently disabled as a result of attempted suicide.

The Public Safety Officer Support Act would:

  • Create an avenue for officers to seek disability benefits for PTSD by directing the PSOB to treat work-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), acute stress disorder and trauma- and stress-related disorders as a line of duty injury for eligible officers as well as those who are permanently disabled as a result of attempted suicide.
  • Allow families of officers who die by trauma-linked suicide to apply for death benefits by directing the PSOB to presume that suicides are a result of job duties in certain traumatic circumstances where there is evidence that PTSD, acute stress disorder and trauma- and stress-related disorders would be the cause of the injury.

The Public Safety Officer Support Act has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police; Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association; National Association of Police Organizations; Sergeants Benevolent Association; National Sheriffs Association; National Border Patrol Council; United States Capitol Police Labor Committee; American Psychological Association; BLUE H.E.L.P.; AFSCME; International Union of Police Associations; National Association of Attorneys General; American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; National Association for Children’s Behavioral Health; International Society for Psychiatric Nurses; Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute; Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, SMART Recovery; Kennedy Forum; Inseparable; National Council for Mental Wellbeing; National Association for Rural Mental Health; American Mental Health Counselors Association; National Association of Social Workers; Postpartum Support International; National Association of State and Mental Health Program Directors; American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work, Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.