With broad backing from both chambers, Sen. Bailey and Rep. Garrett file James ‘Dustin’ Samples Act to support firefighters suffering from PTSD

NASHVILLE – (January 30) State Senator Paul Bailey (R-Sparta) and Representative Johnny Garrett (R-Goodlettsville) today filed the James ‘Dustin’ Samples Act, which seeks to reduce stigma and provide support for firefighters following a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis.

The bill is named in honor of Captain James ‘Dustin’ Samples of the Cleveland Fire Department, who tragically committed suicide in 2020 after a years-long struggle with PTSD.

If passed, the bill will make the diagnosis of PTSD for a firefighter presumed to be an injury suffered in the course of employment if certain criteria is met.

The entirety of the Senate and a majority of the House have signed on as cosponsors.

Quotes:

Senator Paul Bailey, Senate Sponsor:

“When a person goes to work saving lives in our communities, we owe it to them to do all we can to minimize the risk of any type of injury. We can’t legislate away traumatic accidents and emergencies, but we can remove obstacles to getting support when firefighters need it. Addressing the crisis of PTSD and suicide in the fire service requires a commitment to both prevention and treatment from all stakeholders and that’s what SB856 aims to do.” 

Rep. Johnny Garrett, House Sponsor:

“The choice to become a firefighter comes from a passion to help others and save lives. firefighters do an extremely difficult job that frequently puts them in dangerous situations and exposes them to terrible destruction, trauma and sometimes loss of life.  It can take an enormous toll on a person’s mental health which can be just as detrimental as any physical injury. This legislation will improve access to effective treatment but also break down barriers where asking for help has not always been easy.”

Jennifer Samples, widow of Captain Dustin Samples:

“Dustin was incredibly passionate about the work he did and gave all he had. It’s important to me that I honor his legacy by continuing to raise awareness and support for those with mental health injuries. These injuries can be just as severe, if not more so, than many of the physical injuries that are visible. Unfortunately, sometimes, as in Dustin’s case, they can even be fatal.

Jeremiah Million, President, Cleveland Professional Fire Fighters Association:

“I answered calls alongside Dustin Samples and he was the kind of firefighter everyone wanted to be like. One of the bravest things that firefighters from Cleveland and across the state are doing is telling their stories about how traumatic experiences impact our mental health. By telling firefighters now and in the classes to come that ‘it’s okay to not be okay’ and that help is available, we’ll save lives.” 

Matthew Tomek, President, Tennessee Professional Fire Fighters Association: 
“We are thankful for every Senator and Representative who supports this critical piece of legislation and has signed on as a cosponsor. PTSD is an ever-growing illness in the fire service and deserves to be treated like any other job-related illness or injury that they may encounter while on duty.”

About Brad Jones

Brad is the Owner/Operator of BBB TV 12, and has been with the company since August of 1996. Brad is a 1987 graduate of Coalfield High School and a 1995 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Communications. He won the 1995 broadcast production student of the year award. Brad worked at Shop at Home, Inc. a home shopping network that was located in Knoxville, TN from 1993 - 1995 and then at Via TV (RSTV, Inc.) from 1995 - 1996. After some freelance work in Nashville, Brad joined the BBB Communications staff in August of 1996. A short stint at WVLT TV as a news photographer was in 2001, but he continued to work at BBB TV as well. Brad is married to Nicole Jenkins Jones, a 1990 graduate of Oak Ridge High School, who works at Oak Ridge Gastroenterology and Associates in Oak Ridge. They have 3 kids, Trevor Bogard, 27, Chandler 22, and Naomi 13. On December 12, 2013 they welcomed their first grandchild, Carter Ryan Bogard. Brad is also the assistant boys basketball coach at Coalfield High School for the past 11 years. In 2013-14 the Yellow Jackets won their first district title since 1991 and just the 4th in school history.

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