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Policeman's Widow Praises Senate's Action on Police Suicide Bill

Erin Smith died after her husband, a Washington, D.C. metropolitan police officer, committed suicide nine days after the January incident. I fought for a death benefit for months. . Six attacks on the Capitol. In an interview with CBS News congressional correspondent Scott MacFarlane, she initially said the bill would pass because she had fought for more than a year to have his suicide designated as a death on duty in the District of Columbia. She said she was skeptical.

"I tried to keep my hopes within reasonable limits. And when I got approved last night, I was just too excited," she said. And this will help a lot of people, not just me, but others who have gone through this.”

After the bill passed on Monday, Erin Smith said these He was "thrilled" that the officer and his family would be "deserved by the federal government."

A law passed the Senate on Monday that would qualify the families of public security officers who committed suicide to seek death benefits. A traumatic event for first responders across the country. The bill passed unanimously.

Erin Smith's husband, Jeffrey Smith, was a veteran who served the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department for her 12 years. He was the target of several attacks on 6 January after responding to a mob of mobs that broke into the Capitol. 

"He left with one personality of his and came back with another," said Smith. "He just didn't want to be with anyone or be with anyone. He was really struggling to stay to himself and understand what happened that day, his injury. And Ultimately, we know the end.”

Like many parts of the country, Washington, D.C., where Jeff Smith worked, did not consider suicide to be an official death. After her husband's death, Erin Smith lost her health insurance and income. In March,the District of Columbia ruled that injuries sustained by her husband while performing her duties on January 6, 2021, were the "sole and sole cause of his death." I acknowledge that it is the direct cause.

Jeff Smith was one of his four law enforcement officers to respond to the January 6 attacks, from which he committed suicide within seven months of the riots. More than 140 officers from the Capitol Police Department and the Metropolitan Police Departmentwere injured in the Capitol riot,according to the US Capitol Police and Labor Commission.

The bill was introduced by Maryland Democrat David Trowne, Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Guy Resenthaler, Illinois Democrat Tammy Duckworth, and Texas Republican Rep. John Cornyn. . The legislation expands the public safety employee benefits program to compensate employees who commit suicide or become permanently disabled due to service-related traumatic experiences. 

Currently, the program only covers physical injuries, but new legislation will allow public safety officers to seek disability benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder associated with severe trauma. is allowed. Now that suicide is recognized as an occupational death, law enforcement and first responder families who die by suicide are entitled to claim death benefits.

For Erin Smith, this realization brings a sense of 'peace'.

"Anyone considered a first responder, such as firefighters, EMS, or police, their families will benefit from this as long as they meet one of three criteria," she said. explained.

Erin Smith is now petitioning to have her husband's name added to the Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C. and to see that she is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. She died of natural causes the day after she defended the Capitol. Sicknik said she was laid to rest in February 2021

The House of Representatives passed the bill with overwhelming bipartisan support in May, with only 17 Republicans voting against her . throw.

The bill is now on its way to President Biden's desk for signature.

If you or someone you know is in distress or suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). please give me.

For more information on mental health care resources and support, contact the National Mental Health Alliance (NAMI) helpline Monday through Friday, 10am-6pm. please give me. ET, 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or Email [email protected]

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