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  1. #1
    Forum Member Paul316's Avatar
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    Default PTSD/Psychiatric Medications

    Hello I'm Paul Guevara and I'm from Alexandria, VA.I have a question regarding an issue with my recent disqualification from Fairfax County Fire and Rescue. I served in the Marine Corps as an 0311 Infantryman for 4 years and got out in 2006 after serving 2 tours in Iraq. Upon returning home, I was diagnosed with PTSD and taking psychiatric medications. I tried out for Fairfax County Fire and Rescue in Virginia. I Passed the written and the CPAT and when I got to my medical exam, they disqualified me due to my PTSD and psychiatric medications mostly for mood stabilization and for sleep. All they gave me was a disqualification letter and sent me on my way! I was very upset. I spent 7 months in the process attending the CPAT Practices and waiting around for calls for the next step in the process. All I had was the polygraph left to be done. I even had a slot in the next Fire Academy (granted I passed the medical exam). I'm wondering if the PTSD/ psych medicine disqualification is different for each County or is it a nationwide Fire Department SOP that those are disqualifiers? If you would give me some insight I would greatly appreciate it. Something is telling me to try out other counties but I want to know if it's worth it only for a possible disqualification again in the end. I won't be off the meds anytime soon but I still have a strong desire to be a firefighter. I'm only 25 years old so I'm still very young and I won't be on the medication forever. Is this thing one of those where you have to keep a secret from the occupational health center or was it a good idea that I told them about my condition anyway? Thanks guys I greatly appreciate it!


  2. #2
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    Default Get a Lawyer

    This is discrimination in hiring. You should be protected on the Americans with Disabilities Act. It's a complicated piece of legislation as far as litigation goes, but you might be able to get an injunction to get you past that part of the hiring process.

    Granted, there are many situations in firefighting that could trigger a PTSD-type behavioral response, but there should have been an evaluation to determine your CURRENT mental status.

    You could also possibly get a federal injunction for violation of due process. They can't just write you off like that because of a past history with PTSD and psychoactive medication.

    The good news is that most civil rights attorneys will take your case for free. I would suggest contacting a constitutional law professor at a law school in your state and spell out your situation for them. They might think you have a due process case.

    Don't expect to get money out of this, but it's very possible that you could get an injunction.

  3. #3
    Forum Member FireEeyore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveZissou View Post
    ... They can't just write you off like that because of a past history with PTSD and psychoactive medication...
    He said that we was diagnosed and continues to take medicine for his condition. ("I won't be off the meds anytime soon...")

    Why would they not be able to use that when they evaluate candidates?

    I would recommend that he push for an evaluation from the FD though.

  4. #4
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    "mostly for mood stabilization and for sleep"

    Just because someone remains on psychoactive medication doesn't mean that the PTSD hasn't been treated. PTSD is very "curable" in the hands of a competent therapist.

    I'm not saying that the history of PTSD shouldn't be taken into consideration, but a current evaluation should be available. Plus the military has a very large tendency to slap a PTSD diagnosis on relatively mild anxiety issues because they were acquired in combat situations.

    I don't know the specifics of this guys situation, but that's exactly the point. Anxiety disorders are the influenza of mental health complications. You wouldn't just write someone off who had strep throat ten years ago would you? you would do a full physical exam to make sure there were no residual effects of the infection. Just the same, there should be a psychological evaluation available to him.

  5. #5
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    The application, background and medical packets will ask you in several different ways, ďHave you everĒ. Computers donít forget. If you donít put it down they find it youíre immediately eliminated from the hiring process.

    If you list on your background and psych information that you have seen a psychologist in the past, the psychologist who interviews you is going to want to know why and talk to your doc. If your medical insurance paid the bill there is a record. In the process you will sign off your rights and they can look at anything they want.

    If a candidate has had a history of anxiety related disorders and medications their odds of becoming a firefighter are not good. Where this can really play out is in the psych evaluation most of these candidates fail. With problems in your past the doc will ask you some difficult questions that could take the wheels off your wagon.

    I asked a psychiatrist if someone gets treatment for a medical condition thatís OK. But itís look at differently if someone seeks treatment for a psychological condition it can affect their chances of being hiring as a firefighter. The doc said it shouldnít but too often does.

  6. #6
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    Lightbulb Something to Keep in mind...

    Paul,
    something to keep in mind, and I hear this a lot. You were not in the upcoming academy yet. A lot of posts say I have the job if i just pass this next phase. whether it be psych, poly or med. But the fact is you dont have a job yet. "conditional offers of employement" are generally not worth the paper on which they are written. All it really means is that you have passed the testing up to that point. In fairfax all it means is you passed the written and cpat. But still none of the three already listed, not to mention how they will filter all those who passed that process. So dont beat yourself up the are a very though department to get on with, almost inpossible if you are not ALS. Keep your eyes open though there is a lot of hiring around the area, DC and Baltimore are actively hiring and i think PG is too.

    good luck.

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