Contact: State Rep. Josh West
Office: (405) 557-7415
OKLAHOMA CITY – House Majority Leader Josh West, R-Grove, today commented on the passage of a bill that adds mental injury as a qualifying exemption for workers’ compensation for first responders.
House Bill 2271 passed the House on Monday with a unanimous vote of 95-0.
“I appreciate that the business community sees the importance of combating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and mental injuries experienced on a local level with many of our first responders,” West said. “Our first responders witness some of the most horrific, gruesome results of accidents or crimes, and this creates mental trauma that must be healed much like a physical injury. This bill will allow them the resources to get the help they need to overcome these injuries and continue working.”
West said the bill is something he’s been working on for several years.
Rep. Chris Kannady, R-Oklahoma City, said he, too, is thankful for the passage of the legislation.
“Our first responders are tasked with an incredibly stressful job as they work to protect the safety of the public,” Kannady said. “It’s good to be able to pass legislation that will provide them with some benefits to help keep them healthy as well.”
The bill has advanced to the state Senate.
West also was in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday alongside President Donald Trump as he signed an executive order to combat veterans’ suicide through increased suicide prevention outreach through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“It was an honor to represent our nation’s millions of veterans in our Capital this week,” West said. “I’m grateful to President Trump for seeing the seriousness and importance of this threat to the men and women who have faithfully served our country. Giving them resources to combat depression, PTSD and other mental injuries suffered as a result of combat duty will help reduce the number of suicides committed each year by our veterans. They deserve our gratitude, our help and our support, and as a fellow veteran I’m glad to give it to them.”
West served in the U.S. Army for nine years before medically retiring with honors including the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. He served tours of duty in Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2003, he was shot in both legs and his abdomen during a mission. He now serves as a founding member of the bipartisan, bicameral Veterans Caucus in the Oklahoma Legislature.