DoD Implements Sen. Kelly’s Legislation to Improve Mental Health Care Access for Servicemembers 

Today, the Department of Defense formally began implementing Arizona Senator Mark Kelly’s Brandon Act, which will make it easier for servicemembers to seek mental health care confidentially. The bill was named in honor of fallen Arizonan and U.S. Navy Petty Officer Third Class Brandon Caserta.  

After the bill was signed into law as part of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, Sen. Kelly repeatedly pressed military leaders to carry out these important protections for those in uniform.   

“Mental health stigma and military suicide must be confronted head on,” said Senator Kelly. “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.”  

“Today is a great day for our servicemembers and our nation because the DoD signed the Brandon Act into implementation. We are grateful to Senator Mark Kelly for his leadership and his relentless efforts to usher this bill into law,” said Teri and Patrick Caserta, parents of Brandon Caserta.   

“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. 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,” said Representative Seth Moulton.  

Sen. Kelly speaks at outside the Capitol following the bill’s introduction in June 2021

The Brandon Act protects service members who experience mental health emergencies and reduces the stigma around reporting. Specifically, it allows servicemembers to seek mental health treatment, require evaluations when servicemembers self-report, and allow them to seek help confidentially and, if necessary, outside of the chain of command. The process protects the confidentiality of service members similarly to the restricted reporting option that protects victims of sexual assault. The legislation was authored by Representative Seth Moulton and received bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.  

Brandon Caserta died by suicide on June 25, 2018 on the flight line at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia. After his death, his parents and friends discovered six notes in which Brandon attributed his suicide to persistent hazing and bullying from some members and leaders of his Navy helicopter squadron.