Army expands mental health support by implementing the Brandon Act

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WASHINGTON — As part of the Army’s ongoing efforts to eliminate the stigma associated with seeking mental health support, the Army has approved a policy empowering Soldiers to request a mental health evaluation through a commander or supervisor in accordance with the Brandon Act. The Army’s new Brandon Act policy will allow Soldiers to confidentially seek help through their leaders in the rank of staff sergeant or above, and it will charge leaders to quickly and confidentially connect Soldiers with resources.

Named after Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Caserta, who died by suicide in 2018, the Brandon Act aims to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health care and provide an additional avenue for support. The act allows Soldiers to initiate a self-referred, command-facilitated mental health evaluation for any reason, at any time and in any environment.

“I call on leaders to continue making it clear that taking care of your mental health and your family is encouraged,” Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said. “We must constantly look for additional ways to connect our Soldiers with the necessary resources for their well-being, and the Army’s new policy to implement the Brandon Act gives Soldiers another tool to seek help while honoring the legacy of Petty Officer Caserta.”

Soldiers will not be required to provide a reason or basis to request and receive a referral. Mental health providers will conduct the mental health evaluations as soon as possible and will provide necessary clinical care.

This policy applies to Soldiers in the regular Army, the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve who are on active duty for over 30 days. Guidance for Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers not on active duty for more than 30 days is currently under development. Soldiers will continue to have the option to contact a mental health care provider directly, without the involvement of their leadership.

Petty Office Caserta’s parents, Patrick and Teri Caserta, have been a driving force in implementing the Brandon Act across the military services.

“We did not want our son to die in vain,” said Patrick Caserta, a retired Navy senior chief combat veteran. “We are in the lifesaving business, and we will remain in this business the rest of our lives. We thank the Secretary of the Army and her staff for implementing this policy.”

Additional mental health resources include the 988 Veterans Crisis Line, Military OneSource nonmedical counseling, and the 24/7 Psychological Health Resource Center. For more information, visit Soldier patient rights and confidentiality of health information will be protected in accordance with Public Law 104-191, applicable privacy laws, and Department of Defense privacy regulations.