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Kaine Applauds Defense Department Implementation of Brandon Act to Help Servicemembers Access Mental Health Services

Following advocacy from Kaine, Pentagon signed a policy to implement the Brandon Act today

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) and Chair of the SASC Seapower Subcommittee, applauded the Department of Defense’s (DOD) implementation of the Brandon Act to help servicemembers access mental health support. DOD Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Gil Cisneros signed a policy today to begin the Act’s implementation.

“For over a year, I’ve been working with Brandon Caserta’s family to push the Department of Defense to implement the Brandon Act, which will help servicemembers access the mental health support they need. The Casertas lost their son under unimaginably horrific circumstances and have turned their grief into an effort to help other servicemembers. I’m glad DOD is finally implementing this important bill to honor Brandon and prevent future tragedies,” said Kaine. “While today is a step forward, I’m going to keep working to strengthen mental health resources for servicemembers in this year’s upcoming defense authorization bill.”

In the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Kaine pushed to pass the Brandon Act, which requires commands to refer servicemembers for a mental health evaluation upon the servicemember’s request for any reason and to keep such referrals confidential. It was named in honor of Brandon Caserta, who died by suicide in 2018 while he was stationed at Naval Station Norfolk.

Kaine has been outspoken about the need to support servicemembers and expand access to mental health care. Following a string of Sailor suicides in Norfolk, Kaine has been working closely with DOD to help ensure our servicemembers have the mental health resources they need. He urged DOD and Navy leadership to improve servicemembers’ mental health care and to implement the Brandon Act during multiple hearings, most recently in a SASC hearing on U.S. Navy posture in April and two different SASC hearings in March. He also joined his colleagues in advocating for the inclusion of language in the Fiscal Year 2023 NDAA to require DOD to provide Congress with a report on the Brandon Act’s implementation.

If you or anyone you know is in need of mental health assistance, call or text the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 9-8-8, which provides free and confidential support 24/7.