Cleveland, Tenn. firefighters walk 170 miles to Nashville to raise awareness for PTSD, call for more aid

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Posted at 5:31 PM, Feb 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-23 19:36:35-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide are very serious matters, especially for those who risk their lives every day.

That's why Cleveland, Tennessee firefighters lead a 170-mile walk to Nashville to raise awareness. The walk started on February 14 and came to an end at the state capitol on Wednesday.

Firefighters are pushing for lawmakers to pass the James Dustin Samples Act. The law will make firefighters or EMTs suffering from PTSD eligible for workers' compensation.

It was named after Cleveland Fire Captain James Samples, who committed suicide in 2020. He served as a firefighter for 22 years.

"This bill gives an avenue for our guys to seek help. It gives an avenue for them to take the treatments of PTSD, without financial burdens on their families. With PTSD you're already stressed, you don't need to stress over the financial burdens," said Jeremiah Millions, president of the Cleveland Firefighters Association. "So having this bill that was named after Captain James Dustin Samples, who was a hero in our department, this is the beginning of that culture change."

Samples' widow Jennifer serves on the steering committee of The 303 Project. The nonprofit works to reduce the impact of mental health disorders on first responders.