CAYCE, SC (WIS) - Cayce Public Safety Officer Sgt. Evan Antley says he processes scenes a bit differently in his mind than he did before the shooting that left him wounded in May 2017. He says he is 'hyper-aware' like never before. Now, he's speaking out on serving with post-traumatic stress. Antley feels politicians can help police and firefighters with PTSD.
Antley says his bullet-proof vest saved his life nearly one year ago when he was shot and injured while responding to a call. The officer is still serving today; on Wednesday, he responded to the standoff that turned deadly on I-26 in Lexington County.
The officer says it's time to spend money on those who are mentally injured on the job so that people like himself don't come out of pocket by hundreds of dollars to pay for treatment like counseling. Antley wants workers' comp expanded.
"The scars from this incident while they physically have been healing, the emotional wounds and stuff take a lot longer," Antley explained.
Workers' comp doesn't cover his treatments because of the court ruling that makes police and firefighters ineligible unless they have experienced "extraordinary and unusual" circumstance. That's why some push for lawmakers to allow $500,000 from the state budget to pay for PTSD treatments and fill the gap. For the past couple of years, the legislature has funded it.
Now, as the Senate is deep in budget talks, it's included once again in the state budget for next year.
"Officers are already facing low pay situations. A lot of the officers we have today are in the very low pay range 25,000 to 30,000 for some of them and then if they sustained an injury a mental injury on duty, then they're having to pay out of pocket to get themselves whole again," said Jarrod Bruder with the Sheriff's Association.
"You could have law enforcement officers who are out there working with a badge and a gun suffering from PTSD. That's not in anybody's interest. This allows them to get the treatment. It allows them to get the treatment quickly," Sen. Shane Massey (R- Edgefield) said in support of the budget proviso.
Antley feels it's a start. He's still fighting for workers' comp, which would apply to his needs.