Washington, D.C.—On Friday, the Secretary of Defense ordered implementation of the Brandon Act, a policy sponsored by Congressman Moulton (D-MA) and Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) that allows service members to seek mental health treatment and require a mental health evaluation as soon as a service member self-reports. It will also enable Americans serving in uniform to seek help confidentially and, if necessary, outside of the chain of command.
The Brandon Act was passed into law as part of the FY2022 NDAA. It creates a self-initiated referral process for service members seeking a mental health evaluation and aims to reduce stigma by allowing them to seek help confidentially. It is named after Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Caserta who died by suicide in 2018.
Congressman Moulton and Senator Kelly have both been outspoken about delays in implementing the law.
“Finally—our troops can get mental health care without fear of repercussions. This will save lives. Shame on the Pentagon bureaucrats who took 15 months, during which even more service members died by suicide, to make this happen,” Congressman Moulton said.
“The DOD still has a lot of work to do to curb the shockingly high number of suicides among our young men and women who serve, but this is a big step in the right direction.”
“Mental health stigma and military suicide must be confronted head on,” Senator Mark Kelly said.
“Our servicemembers deserve quick and confidential access to treatment when they’re experiencing mental health emergencies. I am grateful for the tireless advocacy of Teri and Patrick Caserta and glad to see our military making these important changes that will save lives.”
Moulton added: “Congress, and particularly the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, will continue to exercise its oversight responsibilities to ensure that the Department of Defense continues to uphold its commitments to prioritizing the mental health of those who serve.”
According to the Department of Defense, implementation of the policy will occur in two phases. In phase one, which will be implemented within 45 days, the Military Departments will establish procedures to implement the policy for all service members on active duty. In phase two, the Military Departments will establish procedures to implement the policy for all service members not serving on active duty.
Congressman Moulton is dedicated to improving mental healthcare in America. He co-authored the bill that created the 988 lifeline, which went live in all fifty states last summer.
A fact sheet about the Brandon Act can be found HERE.