Florida Officers at Nightclub Siege Struggle to Get Aid

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It has been more than four months since security guard Omar Mateen gunned down 49 people at a gay club in Orlando. Police officer Omar Delgado, 44, one of the first responders to the attack, was on the job briefly over the July 4 weekend but suffered a flashback on duty and has not been on patrol since. He has spent the past few months being treated for nightmares and depression while managing red tape and cuts in his take-home pay because he no longer earns overtime, reports the New York Times. While compensation programs can help victims find their way back, it is often much less clear what help is available for the people who are the first to respond, like Delgado.

In Connecticut, a state board ordered the town of Newtown to pay disability to an officer traumatized by the 2012 school shooting. A special fund was created in Connecticut to cover such costs. Other efforts to force workers’ compensation to cover post-traumatic stress disorder have failed in states including North Dakota, Ohio, and South Carolina. In Florida, workers’ compensation does not cover lost wages for police officers suffering from PTSD. Although officers who responded to the shooting at the Pulse club are now being paid their base salaries, two of them described weekslong bureaucratic struggles to get assistance, as well as efforts to patch together resources to get better and allow them to go back to work. They hope attention to the difficulty they faced will help shine a spotlight on an issue that has dogged state legislatures for years.

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