Wife of ex-Orlando cop with PTSD hopeful about bill for first responders

By Bailey Myers, Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, March 12, 2018, 6:03 PM EDT

A new bill which would grant first responders rights if they suffer from PTSD is on its way to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk.

Last week, the bill was passed by Florida lawmakers.

The bill will allow first responders to claim workman’s compensation if they are experiencing post-traumatic stress related to their work. It now awaits Gov. Scott’s signature.

“We won’t benefit from this bill at all, but I just didn’t want another family to go through what we went through,” said Jessica Realin, former Orlando Police Officer’s wife and a supporter of the bill.

In the weeks following the Pulse nightclub shooting, then-Officer Gerry Realin, spent hours inside the club. Following the shooting, he suffered from insomnia, anxiety and was ultimately diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

It was determined Realin is unable to work as a law enforcement officer by doctors, and his family spent months fighting for his pension benefits following his leave from the Orlando Police Department.

Months later Orlando’s pension board granted their request, but that fight is one Realin’s wife said they never should have fought.

With this bill, Jessica Realin said it’s already made a big difference for Gerry Realin, who said he felt invisible himself while suffering from an invisible injury.

“It doesn’t get any easier, but with this law changing, I could tell that chapter actually validated him knowing that the state actually recognized this as an injury,” Jessica Realin said.

Jessica Realin also told Spectrum News 13 that her husband continues to suffer from PTSD. Through the creation of this bill, she said they’ve met several families who have had similar experiences.

She said her hope moving forward is that people will be willing to have open dialogue about PTSD and other issues first responders may face in the line of duty.