A Newtown, Conn., police officer on his day off was among the first to respond to the Sandy Hook school shooting—and he still can't escape the horrific memories. Thomas Bean has flashbacks and has considered suicide, he tells CNN: "That day killed me inside." He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and put on six-month disability, he and his union say. A police department letter calls him "permanently disabled," adding that the department can only afford two years of disability payments, and Bean could be fired.
When it comes to long-term disability, Connecticut only pays for mental health care if physical injury is also involved, says state House majority leader Joe Aresimowicz. "We don't just cover mental injuries," Aresimowicz says. "The last thing you want is a first responder getting ready to enter a situation and have them think, 'I wonder what long-term harm this will do me?'" Bean has 12 years before he can retire. "If I had my arm chopped off, they'd would say, 'Oh yeah, he's hurt.' But instead they're like, 'We can sweep (this) under the rug and not necessarily have to pay because ... it's not physically seen,'" he says.