After a mass shooting occurs, there are messages of condolences for the victims and their families, along with a considerable examination of the shooter and their motives. Liberals then proceed to blame gun laws in the United States and push for more control on the government’s part.

One group of people who don’t get much attention in all this is the people cleaning up the scene of the tragedy. They have perhaps the most difficult job of all. Handling one body is challenging enough, but dozens of them can be particularly traumatic.

After the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, Gerry Realin was a first responder and part of the team tasked with removing the bodies. There were 49 people dead, and the cleanup process took about five hours.

Realin had a hard time with the experience, and now he’s filing a lawsuit against both the city of Orlando and the Orlando police department. While he claims that he suffered harassment because of his psychological trauma, another key point of his suit is that he wasn’t given eye protection during that five-hour cleanup.

There’s no doubt that Realin performed a very difficult job that night. He deserves help going through post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and his case does raise a serious point regarding the way police departments treat first responders who are dealing with that issue. But the path he’s chosen isn’t the right way to affect change, and his department doesn’t deserve to have its reputation tarnished.

When looking at what happened with Realin, it’s clear that the department did what it could for him. According to Realin, he continued going to work for the next two weeks, although there were several times where he elected to leave early or take a sick day. After those two weeks, he chose to use the remainder of his sick days and vacation time. Once those were gone, the department put him on paid leave.

Realin wants all that time he used back. Instead of suing his department, he could have simply submitted an application for a time reinstatement through the disability committee.

Not only did the Orlando police department offer counseling to Realin, it also kept him on paid leave for more than a year. After that, Realin asked for a full disability pension, and that request was approved. He now gets his full retirement pension, which equals more than 80 percent of a $70,000 salary, which Realin will get regardless of his credit score.

Image courtesy of Orlando Sentinel

Despite all that, Realin still decided to sue for $1 million. Part of his case hinges on the lack of eye protection for him and the rest of the first responders, which violates OHSA regulations.

This seems like a petty reason to sue your employer, considering there was nothing stopping Realin from wearing his own eye protection. It’s not like eye protection is expensive, as there are plenty of companies selling affordable, OSHA-certified glasses like these.

Realin has also claimed that because of his PTSD and how he went on paid leave, he was subjected to harassment from his superiors. He says that this harassment took place over the phone, through email, via text message and even in person.

That alleged in-person harassment involved Deputy Chief Orlando Rolon tailing Realin after he left an appointment with a psychiatrist, and then telling him at a gas station that he needed to get over his problems.

To Realin’s credit, he has brought more attention to the problem of PTSD in first responders and the often-limited support that’s available. Currently, Florida first responders don’t have access to benefits for PTSD.

Gerry’s wife, Jessica, spent time going door to door in support of a bill that would change that, although it didn’t end up passing. A senator has since made a similar proposal that is gaining support. Gerry started a surprisingly effective social media campaign to raise awareness of the issue, capitalizing on emerging trends on Twitter and Facebook.

However, he also started a GoFundMe page with a $50,000 goal that has raised over $11,000. So, on top of paid leave and disability pension, Realin is aiming for $50,000 from donations on GoFundMe and $1 million from his city and his police department.

Even with the good that Realin has done, it’s difficult to look at this lawsuit as anything but a cash grab. Aiming to make support more available for first responders with PTSD is admirable, but most of what Realin has done seems to only benefit himself.

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Hi there, I'm Will and I'll be your guide. Here at Gun News Daily, we support guns for self defense and and competitive shooting. We believe that America should be free and support the 2nd Amendment.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Will,

    I wish you had contacted our family or our attorneys before posting a blog on misleading information.

    Our family was targeted and harassed by the same Department that we once looked to as Family. There are still a few fellow officers that are still their that we are closed with. They are ashamed by the treatment we faced.

    As for treatment. I had to fight to get it. The City of Orlando and Orlando Police Department hired outside representation to fight to take that away from my husband as well. We are currently paying $1700 a month for Health insurance. Plus we have to pay back all of last years health insurance coverage.

    They stole a lot from our family even denying my husband his service weapon.

    My husband proudly served the Orlando Police Department and City of Orlando for 13yrs. Twice prior he was injured in the line of duty, one of which he was hospitalized for. But each time he got the treatment he needed and was able to return. It was because of this type of Injury and the stigma around it.

    Although I do appreciate you weighing in on this issue. I wish you had reached out to our attorneys, who is also representing 3 other first responders who responded at Pulse and are being treated in the same fashion. One was a District Chief for OFD and he took his own life in November of 2016 because of the fear of the stigma associate with PTSD.

    Our hope is that we can get the City and Department to finally sit down and address out dated polices and acknowledge that PTSD is a physical injury.

    Finally our lawsuit is a response to their negligence, harassment, and discrimination. My husband was not honored the same way for his service as other injured law enforcement officers / First Responders are.

    I made multiple attempts to get the City of Orlando and Orlando Police Department engaged in trying to change the law and have them support our injured First Responders who suffer from PTSD but they Refused!

    Wishing you all the Best.

    • Mrs. Realin I watched the Pulse Nightclub episode from the docu-series “Active Shooter”…there’s not many things that can get to me in this world,and I’m not boasting about it that’s just how I am,emotions don’t exactly exude from my pores…it goes without saying everything about that night was horrible,and I swear I literally felt my heart break watching that documentary and hearing your story about the toll it has taken on your family in the aftermath.I hope you win your battle in court and more than that I hope your husband finds peace within himself…am donating to the gofundme account tonight and will spread the word…Best wishes to you and yours.

  2. Jerry Realin is a coward who saw this as an opportunity to get money. End of story. I wonder if the woman he raped in the hotel room gets PTSD.

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