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Schmidt: Action needed to provide health benefits for families of fallen officers

Senator Wayne Schmidt

Senator Wayne Schmidt

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, on Friday issued the following statement on the need to provide health benefits for families of fallen public safety officers.

“This week, Dennis Rodeman, a seven-year member of the Lansing Fire Department and former U.S. Marine who served during Operation Iraqi Freedom, was killed in the line of duty after having been struck by a vehicle in what witnesses said was a targeted hit and run.

“As if their jobs weren’t already difficult enough, there is a disturbing trend of violence toward the men and women who serve, protect and put their lives on the line daily for our communities. But those who don the badge do so willingly, despite the risks and with the knowledge that their watch may end on any given day.

“In the tragic case of Firefighter Rodeman and for other public safety officers who perish in the line of duty, we as a public owe their spouses and children a debt of gratitude for their loss. It is a debt we will never be able to repay. But we must do something to help them through an uncertain time.

“Last March I introduced, and in April the Senate unanimously approved, a bill guaranteeing health care benefits for the surviving spouse and dependents of officers who die in the line of duty.

Senate Bill 218 would simply ensure that the spouses and dependents of law enforcement officers, firefighters, rescue squad members, or ambulance crew members who lose their lives as a result of their duties on the job would be provided health care coverage comparable to that of retired state police officers.

“Michigan Sheriffs Association Executive Director Terry Jungel said about the bill, ‘The cost to the state is minimal, but the message to families and first responders is priceless.’

“I could not agree more, and I strongly urge my colleagues in the House of Representatives to act quickly and approve this bill so Michiganders can know that the families of the people who take care of us are taken care of themselves.”