Armstrong Bill to Support Firefighters with PTSD Heads to Governor’s Desk

Senate Passes HB 157, Declares PTSD Disease that May Result from Firefighter Duties

HB 157, legislation that establishes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a disease that—when diagnosed in a firefighter without previous health issues—can be presumed to have been caused by the firefighter’s service, passed the New Mexico Senate on Monday.


“Yes, our firefighters are heroes, but they are also human,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Debbie Armstrong. “We ask so much of them—from running into burning buildings to pulling victims out of mangled cars. It’s time we let them know that we understand the real intensity of the work they do and the consequences it can have on their mental health.”


HB 157 simply adapts existing New Mexico law to expand the definition of “Firefighter Occupational Diseases” to include PTSD.


“Firefighters risk their lives every day when they go to work,” Armstrong said, “and they take that risk to keep all of us safe. Whether it’s the result of one truly devastating event or the cumulative impact of being on the scene for many horrific tragedies, firefighters can develop PTSD, and they need to be able to seek treatment.”


HB 157 now heads to the governor’s desk. According to Legislative Council Service, “the governor may sign [the] bill, veto it or refuse to act on it. If the governor fails to act on [the] bill, [which she has] received before the last three days of [the] legislative session, it becomes law without the

governor's signature, as long as the legislature is still in session.”



About Rep. Armstrong: Debbie, Chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee, is a long-time health care advocate serving her second term in the New Mexico House of Representatives. Having started her career as a physical therapist, she has worked extensively as a health care administrator, working 10 years with Presbyterian Medical Services in Santa Fe. Prior to serving as Secretary of New Mexico’s Aging and Long-Terms Services Department, she oversaw the department’s Consumer and Elder Rights Division. Debbie is the mother of three adult children. She lives in Albuquerque’s North Valley.  Follow her on Twitter @NMRepArmstrong and on Facebook, and sign up for email and text updates.

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