U.S. Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) today introduced mental health legislation in honor of fallen Arizona sailor Brandon Caserta.
The Brandon Act would give service members a way to confidentially request mental health treatment without going through their chain of command. If a service member uses a select phrase, such as “Brandon Act,” they would immediately be referred for a confidential mental health evaluation that does not require the notification of command, similar to the restricted reporting option that protects victims of sexual assault.
“Bullying and abuse have no place in our military,” McSally said. “The bullying Brandon Caserta experienced in his squadron is heartbreaking, and what’s worse is that he was unable to get the mental health treatment he needed. This legislation honors Brandon’s legacy of selfless service and kindness by creating a confidential reporting method for service members struggling with their mental health. We must continue to break the stigma around mental health. I am honored to work with Brandon’s family to continue his legacy through this life-saving legislation.”
“Brandon dedicated his life to serving his country and lifting up those around him. The Brandon Act would carry on his legacy by ensuring all service members can ask for help with no risk of retaliation when they are struggling,” Teri and Patrick Caserta said. “We thank Senator McSally for introducing this legislation and bringing Brandon’s Act one step closer to becoming law. Brandon had always wanted to help people and The Brandon Act would allow him to continue to do that. The Brandon Act brings us peace of mind that all service members will be able to get the help they need when they need it the most. It will prove that no service member will be left behind. We dedicate The Brandon Act to the current, future and past service members who have and continue to keep this country safe.”
Petty Officer Brandon Caserta, 21, died by suicide on June 25, 2018 on the flight line at Naval Air Station Norfolk, Virginia. After his death, an investigation found that toxic leadership in Caserta’s squadron, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28, contributed to his death. In notes left to his family and friends, Brandon attributed his suicide to persistent hazing and bullying from some members and leaders of his squadron.
Caserta’s parents have worked tirelessly to make this bill a reality. Read more about this act HERE.
Bill text can be found HERE.
Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Seth Moulton (D-MA).
McSally is committed to ending abuse in the military and successfully passed historic sexual assault reforms in the final version of the annual 2020 defense bill.