(2023-04-23 NASHVILLE) We are pleased to report that The “James ‘Dustin’ Samples Act,” our PTSD presumption legislation, passed the Tennessee Senate and Tennessee House of Representatives unanimously this week.
TPFFA leaders across the state have been working on this priority legislation for many years. It started as a vision from TPFFA President Emeritus Eddie Mitchell and has finally come to pass.
Our Legislative Coordinator, Lindsay Spain, made it a mission to get this passed and with the support of Representative Johnny Garrett, Senator Paul Bailey, their staffs, and the entire House and Senate, the bill is now headed to Governor Lee's desk. This bill will become law January 1, 2024.
“Addressing the crisis of PTSD and suicide in the fire service requires tools for both prevention and treatment. I was honored to sponsor the James ‘Dustin’ Samples Act and grateful that my colleagues in the General Assembly joined with me to prioritize funding for such a worthwhile program,” says Senator Paul Bailey.
It took a lot of work by a lot people to get this done and we look forward to the positive change it will inspire and the lives it will save. It’s a great day for our members across the state.
“The decision to serve Tennesseans as a firefighter means much more than fighting fires. In addition to the physical risks, the repeated exposure to every type of traumatic scene can take an enormous toll on a person’s mental health. This legislation will improve access to effective treatment but also break down barriers where asking for help has not always been easy,” says Representative Johnny Garrett.
Click here to watch the bill being passed in the Senate. Click here to watch the bill being passed in the House (you will have to fast forward to the 3:50:00 mark).
“I am extremely grateful that Dustin’s legacy will live on and he will continue to do what he loved doing – helping others and saving lives. 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,” says Jennifer Samples, widow of Brother James "Dustin" Samples.