TN Firefighter Suffering From PTSD Demoted And Dismissed 4 Years Before Retirement

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The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

A firefighter in Columbia, Tennessee, suffering from PTSD and undergoing treatment, was first demoted and then dismissed only four years before his retirement.

Roy Brooks, who served as a Firefighter Captain in the city of Columbia, was questioned during a meeting earlier this year by a Chief Officer asking if he was in a “dark place?”

Brooks tells us that this demonstrated that the Fire Department was aware that his behavior was not normal for him.

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He was called in by the administration on April 11th and demoted from the rank of Captain to that of Firefighter for “3 separate incidents.”  Brooks told The Tennessee Conservative that this was the first time he had been made aware of two of the “incidents”.

During the meeting with the administration, Brooks was made to sign a last chance agreement form that should have been effective until his retirement in approximately four years. 

Part of the agreement was for Brooks to attend Employee Assistance mental health Program (EAP) sessions.  Brooks tells us that he attended the sessions and additionally researched PTSD.

He used some of his accrued sick leave for the next several shifts due to panic attacks that occurred the nights before as he was packing and getting ready to go to work.

Brooks tells us that the time off made him realize how much he was suffering mentally and his acceptance of this prompted his wife to open up to him about his behavior over the past year.

“I had no idea what a bad place I was in,” Brooks said.

In order to deal with the issues and continue with the mental health sessions, Brooks acquired additional leave time under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) through the first of June.

However, Brooks was called to City Hall again on May 26th and dismissed from the City with benefits ending on May 31st – benefits that included his mental health sessions.

“In a nutshell, it was a sloppy process but probably within legal realms. If we fought it, the city would just clean it up a bit and then come to the same conclusion,” Brooks said.

However, Brooks has filed for a pre-determination hearing with the City Manager, which is scheduled to take place on Monday, June 6th.

“I have arguments to all charges but I also realize, from having a more clear mind, that I could have handled certain situations differently,” Brooks said.

The situation Brooks is facing closely resembles the issues a piece of legislation introduced in the last session of the Tennessee General Assembly was attempting to address.

House Bill 1356, sponsored by Representative Bob Ramsey (R-Maryville-District 20), was named in honor of Cleveland city firefighter James “Dustin” Samples, who suffered from PTSD related to his work. That, combined with the fact that he and his wife Jennifer were unable to afford to continue paying for the treatment he was receiving, led him to take his life just before Christmas 2020.

The bill would have required local Tennessee governments to give professional firefighters state workers’ compensation benefits if they are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but the legislation sank after several lawmakers and local officials spoke out with concern that requiring local entities to provide the benefits would be too expensive, costing over $4.68 million each year.

Ramsey noted the need for the legislation in an effort to help more firefighters be able to continue to work.

“This is not to take employees away from their jobs, this is to keep them active and to keep them effective,” Ramsey said. “I think in the long run, it would actually be maybe a break-even situation where morale and effectiveness would actually be enhanced at none or little cost.”

After being placed on a special calendar of the House Finance, Ways, and Means Subcommittee, it was returned to the clerk’s desk.

Ramsey is hopeful that the Tennessee Professional Fire Fighters’ Association and the local Cleveland 3748 are going to push forward with a new version of the bill in 2023.

About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative  ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others.  He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History.  Contact Jason at

3 thoughts on “TN Firefighter Suffering From PTSD Demoted And Dismissed 4 Years Before Retirement

  • June 3, 2022 at 7:50 pm

    Absolutely unfathomable Columbia would do something like this. I know of a lot of folks with PTSD having served in the military and law enforcement total of 32 years. They didn’t ask for this. If this case is employment related the honorable thing would be a medical retirement so treatment could continue . I am ashamed of Columbia FD leadership or total lack thereof.

  • June 4, 2022 at 11:24 am

    I have never suffered from PTSD, but I was hospitalized for depression many years ago and I can tell you, it truly is a dark place. This is absolutely horrible what is happening to this firefighter who for many years had done an outstanding job. This should not be allowed and whoever the culprits are who are trying to do this to Firefighter Brooks should be removed from office and held accountable. I personally believe this is why so many things like this are happening in these times. No one is ever held accountable for their actions. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE. I will pray for Mr. Brooks and his family and am forwarding this story to Tunnel To Towers (

  • June 4, 2022 at 5:09 pm

    The same people who voted against the bill to cover the costs for our faithful servants are probably the SAME ONES who voted to fund Titan Stadium.


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