A 12-year veteran of the Orlando Police Department has been denied workers comp by the state of Florida after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after he helped pull bullet-riddled bodies out of the Pulse nightclub in June, reports the Advocate.
Officer Gerry Realin, who has spent ten years as a member of the OPD Hazmat team, filed a claim saying his unable to do his job and suffers from nightmares and hypertension. However, under Florida law workers comp does not cover psychological treatments.
“The man that left my house that morning did not come back to me that night,” explained his wife Jessica. “When he got home, 2:30 the next morning, he came in very quiet… looked at both of our kids, then went in the shower and just lost it. And he didn’t stop crying. The next day, it was on and off. And it’s just been really hard.”
According to reports in June, police and paramedics who were finally able to enter the nightclub, where Omar Mateen slaughtered 49 people and wounded 53, were confronted not only by the carnage but also the sound of ringing cell phones coming from bodies strewn throughout the club.
In an interview Realin said he returned to work two weeks after attack but had to take frequent days off, using up all of his vacation time and sick days before being placed on paid leave. That may be in jeopardy since Florida employers not only don’t have to reimburse medical bills related to psychological trauma, they also don’t have pay for time off.
According to former state trooper Ron Clark, who has studied PTSD, Florida’s employment laws have a tragic loophole when it comes to psychological issues.
“Usually if you break your leg in law enforcement and have psychological issues, you go out on workman’s comp,” he explained. “Not with psych-only issues.”
Realin’s family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with the costs of his treatments, and are working with a local attorney to change the restrictive employment law in the state.
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