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Republicans Hate Cops, Vote Against Studying PTSD Among First Responders

Two Aberdeen legislators looked cops, firemen, and EMTs in the eye and voted today not to even study whether they deserve worker’s comp for PTSD.

Representative Ryan Cwach (D—remember that D, for Democrats, the party actually trying to help people and solve real problems—18/Yankton) proposed House Bill 1142 to add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of on-the-job injuries for which firefighters, law enforcement officers, emergency medical service providers, and emergency dispatchers can qualify for worker’s compensation. HB 1142 said a first responder would have to provide a diagnosis from a psychiatrist and “clear and convincing evidence” that the PTSD arose from “exposure to another’s grievous injury or death” in the line of duty.

If you don’t think PTSD is real or deserves compensation and care, you probably also agree with Donald Trump’s diagnosis of the traumatic brain injury soldiers suffer as mere headaches.

Rep. Cwach watched Republican leaders jerk his bill around, waiting nineteen days to put it on the House Health and Human Services calendar, then waiting another couple days before kicking it over to House Commerce and Energy (because compensation for workers is more of a commerce issue than a health issue, which signals where this bill is going and the mindset taking it there), which then dinked around until busy-busy crossover week to give this important bill a hearing.

I say important because Blue Lives Matter, right, Republicans?

We are losing Blue Lives to PTSD, Sheriff Mike Milstead told the committee today:

Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead on the other hand said suicide rates among law enforcement and firefighters were higher than deaths in the line of duty. He said his department lost several people [Bob Mercer, “House Panel Defeats Measure to Require Study of PTSD Among South Dakota First Responders,” KELO-TV, 2020.02.24].

Evidently not a language spoken in the Republican caucus
Evidently not a language spoken in the Republican caucus.

But for South Dakota Republicans, Blue Lives Matter only as long as we don’t have to pay for them. Sensing that Republicans weren’t really going to support police and other first responders suffering because of their willingness to run to danger and mayhem, Rep. Cwach moved to amend his bill to a mere study: take the second half of this year, look into the suicides to Sheriff Milstead testified and other evidence of the extent our first responders are suffering for their service, and talk about what the state could do to help. That proposal elicited all sorts of technical hemming and hawing from the Republican leaders—ordering studies by law is illegal, should’ve been a resolution, summer studies don’t do much, some other agency should study it….

Imagine paramedics arriving at the scene of a car wreck. Folks are trapped inside the wreckage with obvious injuries. One paramedic notices a headlight is out and says the team should wait until the police come to write a ticket for that violation. Another notices oil dripping from one of the vehicles and says we should call DENR first to report an oil spill.

That’s the Republican caucus today.

Not all Republicans are committed to killing every good Democratic idea and waiting until a Republican can sponsor it next Session and claim credit. Representative Rhonda Milstead (R-9/Hartford)—yes, the sheriff’s wife—voted for HB 1142. So did Representative Larry Zikmund (R-14/Sioux Falls), who, perhaps already fearing his primary challenge from former ELCA Bishop David Zellmer realized he’d better start putting human decency over partisan politics and vote to support his local sheriff. Democratic Representative Kelly Sullivan (D-13/Sioux Falls), the only Democrat present on the committee, also voted to support studying PTSD among our women and men on the front lines of emergencies.

But the Republican majority, including my neighbors Reps. Carl Perry (R-3/Aberdeen) and Kaleb Weis (R-2/Aberdeen), said nope, not even gonna study PTSD among cops and firefighters and other first responders. Not our problem, take your whining elsewhere… or at least bring a Republican sponsor to do it next time.

Today, Carl Perry voted against cops.

Today, Kaleb Weis voted against firefighters.

Today, Republicans Arch Beal, Spencer Gosch, Chris Johnson, Paul Miskimins, Tim Rounds, Jim Wangsness, and Mark Willadsen all voted against EMTs, dispatchers, and all first responders who sacrifice their well-being to serve the people.

It’s too bad more Republican legislators don’t share that sense of sacrifice for their neighbors.


  1. grudznick 2020-02-24 19:27

    Why did young Mr. Cwach not get a single Republican to sign on as a sponsor of this fine bill? Serious question, Mr. H. Was it because they wanted to only poke somebody in the eye?

  2. Scott 2020-02-24 20:16

    Many of these people in this state are volunteers. After a call they return home and have no support network to help them deal with what they saw and experienced.

    On top of that, these volunteers have to do fundraisers so that they have equipment so they can respond to incidents.

    Any wonder why there is a shortage of EMT and firefighters in this state. But the folks in Pierre spend there time on non-issues.

  3. Debbo 2020-02-24 20:47

    Shame, shame, shame on the SDGOP. I wish I was surprised.

    The PTSD issue similar in every state with symptoms including depression and high suicide rates.

  4. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr., 2020-02-24 23:51

    As the proud father of one of the members of Sioux Falls Fire Rescue, I believe it is a disgrace that anyone, regardless of party, would oppose this bill and not give first responders like my son Jack and his fellow colleagues protections such as this given the fact that they potentially put their lives on the line everyday for their fellow citizens and are often placed to witness many of the challenging tragedies within their community on a daily basis.

  5. Mark 2020-02-25 00:33

    I ask myself over and over…..
    Where do these turds come from?
    What a disgrace.

  6. Debbo 2020-02-25 00:50

    SDGOP hates children too.

    SD is the ONLY STATE that has responded to the waves of notice about systemic child abuse by making it much MORE DIFFICULT for victims to get redress.

    The Strib article tells about the Charbonneau sisters who were molested at a mission school. They’ve come to the legislature every year for several years to press for a bill giving them an opportunity to bring civil suits. The SDGOP shoots it down every time.

    “The Legislature in 2010 passed a law that does not allow childhood sexual abuse survivors over age 40 to sue organizations. Marci Hamilton, a Professor at the University of Pennsylvania who runs an organization advocating for removing the statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse, told lawmakers that South Dakota is the only state since 2002 to put restrictions on the statute of limitations.

    “The bill to undo that was once again defeated by lawmakers who did not want to open churches and organizations up to lawsuits for past abuse.

    “Justin Bell, a lobbyist for St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, cast doubt on the memories of childhood sexual abuse survivors, arguing that the passage of time make it more difficult to disprove allegations. He pointed to the recent filings by the Boy Scouts of America as an example of the ruin that these types of lawsuits can bring to an organization.”

    You can clearly see where the SDGOP’s loyalty lies.

    The age 40 law is one of the most filthy, perverse, disgusting and reprehensible things the SDGOP owned legislature has done. You CS can rot.

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