NASHVILLE, TN (SPECIAL TO WLAF) – The General Assembly Friday passed the James ‘Dustin’ Samples Act, which seeks to provide support to firefighters following a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis. This is a legislative initiative funded by the General Assembly.

Sponsored by Senator Paul Bailey (R-Sparta) and Representative Johnny Garrett (R-Goodlettsville), the legislation makes clear that a firefighter’s PTSD diagnosis connected to one or more calls of a particularly traumatic nature is presumed to be an injury suffered in the course of employment and qualifies for resources through their workers’ compensation benefits plan.

The bill establishes a grant program to mitigate the cost to an employer providing worker’s compensation for firefighters diagnosed with PTSD. In order to qualify for the grant, employers must provide mental health resiliency training as part of their continuing education program.

The bill is named in honor of Captain James ‘Dustin’ Samples of the Cleveland Fire Department, who tragically committed suicide in 2020 after a years-long struggle with PTSD.


Senator Paul Bailey, Senate Sponsor:

“Addressing the crisis of PTSD and suicide in the fire service requires tools for both prevention and treatment. I was honored to sponsor the James ‘Dustin’ Samples Act and grateful that my colleagues in the General Assembly joined with me to prioritize funding for such a worthwhile program.”

Rep. Johnny Garrett, House Sponsor:

“The decision to serve Tennesseans as a firefighter means much more than fighting fires. In addition to the physical risks, the repeated exposure to every type of traumatic scene can take an enormous toll on a person’s mental health. This legislation will improve access to effective treatment but also break down barriers where asking for help has not always been easy.”

Senator Adam Lowe:

“It is critical to address the most significant threat to firefighters: suicide as a result of unresolved PTSD. Reducing the stigma and removing barriers to early care will make for cheaper claims, healthier firefighters and safer communities.”

Jennifer Samples, widow of Captain Dustin Samples:

“I am extremely grateful that Dustin’s legacy will live on and he will continue to do what he loved doing – helping others and saving lives. I know the funding of the James ‘Dustin’ Samples Act will continue to build awareness, support, and resources to those who have experienced unspeakable traumas. By passing this bill, the Tennessee General Assembly has shown that it is okay to reach out for help and Tennessee supports those who protect them every day.”

Matthew Tomek, President, Tennessee Professional Fire Fighters Association:

“This is a great day for the fire service across Tennessee. Passing this legislation allows firefighters to receive timely treatment for their work-related PTSD so they can get the help they need to continue healthy, productive lives. We are so very appreciative of the legislature for making this a priority this year.” (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 04/22/2023-6AM)