A Time for Change in our Armed Forces - The Brandon Act

We are losing servicemembers to suicide for a variety of reasons and this has to stop. When are Congress and DOD going to see that losing our servicemembers to toxic abusive leadership and abuse of power is the cause of suicides and is not the cost of doing business? Being tormented by the very ones who are supposed to keep them safe and have their backs, is appalling and should not be tolerated under any circumstance. There is an inner war going on and we are killing our own. Now is the time to protect our servicemembers.

I am in full support of The Brandon Act and I am asking you to do the same. This Act was created in memory of PO3 Brandon Caserta who died by suicide on June 25, 2018. The way Brandon died sent a message not only to his Navy command, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28 but to the entire Armed Forces. Brandon died on the flight line of his Naval command while stationed at Naval Air Station Norfolk, Virginia. Brandon’s command refused to allow him, multiple times, from seeking help. There is documented proof that he was bullied, harassed, hazed, and retaliated against before and after trying to seek help. This constant harassment and retaliation led Brandon to his decision to end his life – in front of his toxic and abusive leadership, his entire command, and peers by jumping into the spinning rear tail rotor of an HM-60S helicopter. Brandon left six notes to family and friends in which he attributed his murder by suicide to persistent harassment, hazing, bullying, and retaliation from some members and leaders of his Navy helicopter squadron.

The Brandon Act was created to be a safe phrase for servicemembers to use which would require an immediate referral from the individual’s Chain of Command for a mental health evaluation following the disclosure of needing help and would allow them to go outside of the chain of command. It would expand the existing law that would improve and regulate the process by which a member of the Armed Forces may be referred for a mental health evaluation. The Brandon Act would provide a confidential and safe channel for servicemembers to self-report or for peers to report others who they see are struggling with mental health issues. The safe phrase is “I wish to invoke The Brandon Act. The process would protect the anonymity of servicemembers, similar to the restricted reporting option that protects survivors of sexual assault. Our servicemembers are our country’s most trusted assets and deserve to be just as mentally fit as they are physically fit to serve this great nation. They deserve to be treated with respect and dignity by everyone including their leaders and peers. The Brandon Act will help keep our servicemembers alive while they navigate through a system that throws roadblocks and obstacles in their way.

The Brandon Act was introduced to Congress on Wednesday, June 16, 2021, by Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona. The House Bill Number is H.R. 3942 and the Senate Bill Number is S. 2088. There are nine co-sponsors in the House and three co-sponsors in the Senate thus far. I am asking you to become a co-sponsor of this bill. It’s time to protect those who protect us.

I employ you to PLEASE do what you know is right! You, in your capacity, need to make sure The Brandon Act gets the attention it deserves. As you have seen in the statistics, the suicide rate in the U.S. Armed Forces has become an epidemic. In 2018 a total of 543 died by suicide. In 2019, there were 503 suicides. In 2020, there were 571 suicides. This epidemic must end. Again, I am asking you to support, become a co-sponsor, and vote for The Brandon Act - it will save many lives.

Thank you