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Brandon Act aims to improve mental health support | Health Fitness

Gilbert R. Cisneros Jr., undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, signed a policy on May 5, 2023 to initiate implementation of the Brandon Act and improve the process for service members seeking mental health support.

The Brandon Act aims at improving the referral process for service members seeking a mental health evaluation and allowing them to seek help confidentially, Cisneros said.

The Brandon Act is named after Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Caserta who died by suicide in 2018. The legislation was signed into law by President Joe Biden on Dec. 27, 2021, as part of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act.

“Our greatest strength is our people, and we are committed to their well-being,” Cisneros said. “Therefore, I firmly believe that seeking mental health treatment is a sign of strength and resilience. This policy, spurred by the passage of the Brandon Act, is an important step in ensuring that our service members are able to seek mental health treatment when and how they need it. We honor Petty Officer Brandon Caserta’s memory by ensuring that our military services have procedures and processes in place that allow service members to seek help confidentially, for any reason, at any time and in any environment, and aim to reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health care.”

The Defense Department policy directs the services to establish policy, assign responsibilities, and provide procedures for service members to request a referral for a mental health evaluation through a commanding officer or supervisor. The process allows service members to seek help confidentially for any reason, at any time, and in any environment, thereby reducing the stigma associated with seeking mental health care, Cisneros said.

Implementation of the policy will occur in two phases. In phase one, which should be implemented within 45 days,

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