Bipartisan group of lawmakers pushes Brandon Act, which would improve access to mental health services for military

D.C. Bureau

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Lawmakers say there has been a rise in suicides among service members, so they’re looking to push legislation to save lives in the future.

On Wednesday, Rep. Seth Moulton (R-Mass.) and other lawmakers re-introduced legislation to support military mental health.

“We’re back here again with the help of the Senate demanding that Congress pass the Brandon Act,” Moulton said.

The Brandon Act would allow service members to anonymously seek mental health treatment. The act would also make a more direct path to mental health resources and remove the chain of command to access services. It would hold the chain of command accountable for suicides if officers did not take appropriate action to prevent them.

“The suicide rate in the military has increased by more than 13% from 2019 to 2020,” Moulton said.

The legislation is named after U.S Navy Petty Officer Brandon Caserta, a 21-year-old who died by suicide on Naval Station Norfolk.

“It’s Brandon Caserta’s legacy and it’s up to us to get it done,” Moulton said.

Brandon Caserta’s parents say the Brandon Act will save many lives.

“It keeps our service members alive when they navigate through obstacles and roadblocks that are put before them,” Teri and Patrick Caserta said.

The legislation received bipartisan support. Last year, the original legislation never came to a vote.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say service members need to feel supported.

“Brain health or mental healthcare is extremely important,” Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) said.

She says if this becomes law, it would also allow those who serve to seek help outside the chain of command if necessary.

“And we must ensure that those who risk their lives for our country have the ability to get care when needed and without undue burden,” Miller-Meeks said.

Both Moulton and Miller-Meeks are confident this act will pass during this Congress.

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