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The Brandon Act, honoring fallen Arizona sailor, passes Senate

Posted at 3:54 PM, Dec 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-16 21:13:25-05

The Brandon Act, if approved, would make it easier for service members to seek mental health treatment confidentially.

The bill is named after Arizona sailor Brandon Caserta, who died by suicide a few years ago while serving in the Navy.

For years, Caserta's parents tried getting the bill passed into law but kept running into issues until recently when it was included in the National Defense Authorization Act.

“When they’re sitting down with families it’s kind of hard to ignore the situation," said Brandon's father, Patrick Caserta.

The bill received bipartisan support and was sponsored by U.S. Senator Mark Kelly.

“For months, I worked with Republicans and Democrats to get the language of the Brandon Act in the defense bill," Kelly said.

"Our efforts will help us confront military suicide head on and save the lives of other young service members,” he added.

According to the Department of Defense, 580 active duty troops died from suicide in 2020, a record high.

“I didn’t realize until he died how many people were dying. I didn’t know the numbers were so incredible," Patrick added.

Brandon's mom, Teri, told ABC15 that one suicide is too many.

“And no family should go through what we’ve gone through," she said.

The Veterans Crisis Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can be reached by calling (800) 273-8255, press 1. Services also are available online or by text, 838255. You can also text TALK to 741741 to text with a trained crisis counselor for free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. Find more information about the Lifeline online or call directly by dialing (800) 273-8255.