Supporting the Brandon Act
September 8, 2021
The Brandon Act is a piece of legislation making its way through Congress that would give service members a safe phrase, triggering an automatic referral to a mental health specialist for evaluation. It could save countless lives if passed. It was created by Teri and Patrick Caserta the parents of Navy Aircrew Aviation Electrician’s Mate Striker Brandon Caserta. Brandon died by suicide in 2019 as a result of being bullied. This blog post was written by Teri to help spread awareness for mental health resources available to service members and also to garner support for The Brandon Act.
PTSD is very real. Most service members have no clue that they have it. Patrick was diagnosed with it after he retired. Looking back, he can remember saying things and going off the handle on meaningless issues. He had made some bad decisions that were not like him. Nothing harming our family or anything just behavior things. He went to the local VA Veteran Center, and they helped him a lot. The Vet Centers nationwide are awesome for helping or treating PTSD. If you didn’t know they are also taking active-duty service members as well.
PTSD can literally interfere with enjoying life. The sooner a person gets help the better off that person will be. It can be controlled through therapy, and you can live a “normal” life and for so many a better life. Mental health, in general, is many things. Going to seek help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Many chains of commands have you convinced it is a weakness. Patrick’s career would have been over if he would have gone to mental health while serving in the Navy. You can get help from many other sources, and no one needs to know about it. Your chain of command does not need to approve it. That is a myth and a rumor.
We came up with the Brandon Act to help with active-duty mental health, suicide, and PTSD. It forces a chain of command to get involved and help their fellow service members. We call it a verbal 9-1-1. It is a way to get help when you need it with no retaliation, and it can remain confidential which means you do not need to disclose what your issue is. Great commands will always be there for you; however, the toxic abusive ones are the ones that we are talking about here. Some say they are there for you and when the time comes, they show their true colors.
Our service members deserve and are entitled to get the help they need when they need it. That help needs to be quick and waiting weeks sometimes months for an appointment is unacceptable. Service members need to use Tricare out in town or go somewhere who can get them in and help them immediately. No mental health professional will ignore someone when they are in crisis. They will drop everything and help you right then. Getting help could literally be a life-and-death situation when you need help. You must reach out to your true friends and family; they are allies for you and they care about you and your mental health. Many lives have been saved by proactive moms and dads demanding help. PTSD and depression can be silent killers. In most cases, loved ones didn’t know they had suicidal ideations. We together must change that and put laws in place that ensure our service members always get help when they need it.
How you can help
If you would like to help support The Brandon Act to ensure it gets passed, there are a couple of actions you can take
- Sign the petition: A Time For Change
- Write letters to Congress for support
- Share this blog post and spread awareness
NAMI – They are supporting The Brandon Act
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – They are supporting The Brandon Act