ICYMI: Sen. Kelly Discusses the Brandon Act, Military Mental Health at ASU Panel  

This week, Arizona Senator Mark Kelly joined members of Arizona State University ROTC, Patrick and Teri Caserta, and representatives from the ASU Pat Tillman Veterans Center for a panel to discuss the issue of military suicide and highlight the importance of Kelly’s bill, the Brandon Actsigned into law in December of last year.  

Kelly’s Brandon Act, named after fallen United States Navy Petty Officer Third Class Brandon Caserta of Peoria, AZ, is designed to protect service members who experience mental health emergencies and reduce the stigma around reporting. This bill will allow service members to seek mental health treatment, and require a mental health evaluation as soon as a service member self-reports. It will also allow Americans serving in uniform to seek help confidentially and, if necessary, outside of the chain of command.

Panel members–which included Kelly, ASU ROTC leaders, Brandon’s parents, and Tillman Center Directors–discussed the rooted problem of mental health stigmas in the military and how the Brandon Act will take significant positive steps to address the issue. 

Kelly delivers opening remarks at the panel discussion.

“A country with such a strong military cannot continue to fail its servicemembers in this way. […] This law is designed to protect service members who experience mental health emergencies by requiring the Department of Defense to create a process that reduces stigma and protects confidentiality. It will allow service members to seek mental health treatment and require a mental health evaluation as soon as they self-report,” said Senator Kelly during the panel.

See highlights of the coverage below:

Your Valley: Implementing the Brandon Act

[Kelly] said there is still a stigma about mental health that exists in American society, but even more so in the military, where you can face challenges that sometimes lead to mental health challenges. […]

But it is time to figure out a way to outgrow that stigma, and the Brandon Act is a good first step to do that, he said.

“Brandon tried to find help to escape an impossible situation, and despite reaching out to multiple individuals in his chain of command, he did not get the support he needed. He didn’t get treatment. He didn’t get help. And had he not encountered multiple barriers to accessing mental health services including the stigma of self-reporting, he would likely be here today,” Kelly said.

12 News: Senator Kelly joins panel at ASU to discuss the Brandon Act

“Teri and Patrick had a piece of legislation called the Brandon Act and I worked with some of my colleagues to get across the finish line and it’s in the defense bill. And now the services are going to be required to have a plan and have training and a process where service members can get the mental health services they need to get through tough times. It’s tough serving in the military.” … [Kelly said]

The Brandon Act allows service members to anonymously seek mental health treatment and requires that a mental health evaluation be done as soon as a service member raises a concern about their mental state.”