Rep. Seth Moulton Introduces The Brandon Act to Change DoD Mental Health Policy, Pay Tribute to Fallen Navy Sailor Brandon Caserta (June 25, 2020)

The Brandon Act Seth Moulton.png

Representative Seth Moulton Press Release

The bill named in Caserta’s honor would create “Brandon Act” reporting, making it easier for service members to seek mental health care anonymously

Brandon Caserta

PO3 Brandon Caserta, U.S. Navy

WASHINGTON — Today, Representative Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Teri and Patrick Caserta, parents of fallen United States Navy Petty Officer Third Class Brandon Caserta, announced the introduction of The Brandon Act.

The bill would allow service members to anonymously report and seek mental health treatment by using a safe word like “Brandon Act.” It is designed to protect service members who experience mental health emergencies that result from hazing, bullying, or any other issue. It would allow them to seek help anonymously and, if necessary, outside of the chain of command. The bill’s introduction comes on the second anniversary of Brandon Caserta’s death from suicide, which he said was prompted by bullying and hazing within his unit.

“Brandon had a smile that made everyone want to smile. He was a very charismatic and upbeat young man. He made everyone’s day better no matter what they were going through. Brandon has always helped everyone he could. The Brandon Act would do this for his fellow service members in his death,” Teri and Patrick Caserta said, “Brandon did not die in vain and his legacy for helping others will continue long after his death when The Brandon Act is passed.”

Rep. Seth Moulton said: “Brandon tragically lost his life because he wasn’t able to get support for his mental health—something we should provide every American, especially every American hero in uniform. This bill will ensure our service members can get help and have no fear of retaliation for doing so, as it’s the right thing to do. Although we’ll never get Brandon back, his legacy will be the lives of many more great Americans he saves through this bill, and I’m proud of his parents who have fought so hard to tell his story and make this change.”

Brandon Caserta died by suicide on June 25, 2018 on the flight line at Naval Air Station Norfolk, Virginia. After his death, his parents and friends discovered six notes in which Brandon attributed his suicide to persistent hazing and bullying from some members and leaders of his Navy helicopter squadron.

The Brandon Act expands the existing law that regulates how service members are referred for mental health evaluations, in order to provide a confidential channel for service members to self-report mental health issues. The process would protect the anonymity of service members, similar to the restricted reporting option that protects victims of sexual assault.

Moulton made expanding mental health care and breaking the stigma around seeking help a top priority since disclosing last year that he is managing post traumatic stress from his service in Iraq as a United States Marine. In addition to The Brandon Act, Moulton has secured mandatory mental health check ups for service members who saw combat within 21 days of leaving the battlefield in the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act.

He also co-introduced, with fellow veteran Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, which would make 9-8-8 the national number for mental health emergencies. The bill has passed in the Senate, and is one step away from a vote on the House floor. Yesterday, the FCC announced that it would issue a final rule on the designation of 9-8-8 as the national suicide prevention hotline in mid-July.

A copy of The Brandon Act is available for download here.

A legislative summary for The Brandon Act is available for download here.

Read more from the original source on Rep. Seth Moulton’s website here.

Related Links:
The Brandon Act (website)
The Brandon Act (Facebook)
Moulton Introduces Brandon Act to Change DoD Mental Health Policy, Pay Tribute to Fallen Navy Sailor Brandon Caserta (June 25, 2020)
Navy Sailor Brandon Caserta Died by Suicide at Naval Station Norfolk; Family Pushing for Suicide Prevention Legislation ‘The Brandon Act’ Focusing on Hazing & Bullying (June 25, 2018)
Military Policy and Legislation Considerations for the Investigations of Non Combat Death, Homicide, and Suicide of US Service Members (October 21, 2016)
Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside (Jan 1, 2016 to Present) 
15 Active Duty Cases That Beg for Prevention Efforts, Military Justice Reform, and the End of the Feres Doctrine
Military Justice for All (Facebook)

Former Representative Bruce Braley (D-IA) Introduced the Holley Lynn James Act (April 12, 2011)

[Former] Rep. Bruce Braley introduces the Holley Lynn James Act — a bill to help victims of sexual assault and domestic violence in the military get justice. The bill is named after Holley Lynn James, a constituent of [former] Rep. Braley who was killed by her husband while both were in the service. -[Former] Rep. Bruce Braley (April 12, 2011)

In Their Name:

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Holley Lynn James Wimunc 2

2nd Lt. Holley Lynn James, U.S. Army

“The U.S. military could crack down on internal cases of sexual and domestic abuse. That’s if a bill that [former] Congressman Bruce Braley has written becomes law. The bill is named after this former Dubuque [Iowa] woman. In 2008, Holley Lynn James’ husband killed her at their home at a military base in North Carolina. Both James and her husband John Wimunc were in the military. [KCRG spoke with James’ father] Call it a gut feeling or a father’s intuition, during the spring of 2008 Jesse James knew something wasn’t right with his daughter’s marriage. ‘We were constantly calling the unit, calling the unit and they would do something but it didn’t last very long’ (Jesse James) Two months before her death, Army 2nd Lt. Holley James filed a domestic violence complaint with police against her estranged husband Marine Corporal John Wimunc.

[Wimunc] later killed Holley, dismembered her body, then set her apartment on fire. ‘The military has never had a system of investigating and prosecuting these cases’ (Jesse James). But [former] Congressman Braley’s new bill aims to change all that. It would create an Inspector General’s office to handle abuse cases. There would be a resource department for victims and would include a neutral third party investigator. ‘This isn’t an indictment on military leaders, it’s just that people who are more qualified with the life experiences to investigate and prosecute these things need to be doing it’ (Jesse James). James says he’ll never know but a department like this may have saved his daughter’s life…John Wimunc pleaded guilty to Holley James murder and a judge sentenced him to life in prison without parole. James had two children from a previous relationship. Jesse James says the children are doing well and living with their father…”

“Last year the Department of Defense reported more than 3000 instances of sexual assault in the military. Now [former] Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley has introduced legislation that aims to bring that number down. ‘When it has to do with woman serving their country in the military, I can’t think of a better reason for people to come together and come up with a solution to an alarming problem’ (Rep. Bruce Braley). In Dubuque today, Braley spoke about the Holley Lynn James Act. It would help victims of sexual and domestic abuse in the military. The bill is named after the Dubuque native and Army 2nd Lt. [Holley Lynn James] who was killed by her husband [John Wimunc] in 2008. The bill would enlist the office of Inspector General to provide independent oversight in reported cases.” –KCRG-TV (April 12, 2011)

Related Links:
Rep. Braley introduces Holley Lynn James Act (April 12, 2011)
H.R.1517 – Holley Lynn James Act (112th Congress, 2011-2012)
To amend titles 10 and 28, United States Code, to provide for military sexual assault and domestic violence accountability, and for other purposes.
Domestic Violence, Where Does it End? (Interview with Jesse James)
Braley says Defense Department moves involving domestic violence are encouraging
Accountability for Sexual Assault Perpetrator in the Military
Battle over dedication to the military
New Braley ad pushes Senate hopeful’s ability to work across party lines
Slain soldier’s father lauds Braley
Sgt. Bill Coffin Murdered Ex-Fiancee After Civilian Courts Issued Protective Order, Judge Alleges Army Routinely Ignores Court Orders (December 15, 1997)
Army Staff Sgt. Paul Norris Fatally Shot Army Spc. Kamisha Block in Iraq After She Ended a Forbidden Relationship, Then Ended His Own Life (August 16, 2007)
Camp Lejeune Marine Maria Lauterbach & Unborn Child Murdered, Remains Discovered in Fellow Marine’s Backyard; Cesar Laurean Sentenced to Life in Prison, No Parole (December 15, 2007)
Army Nurse Lt. Holley Lynn James Murdered by Marine Husband the Day After She Announced Divorce; John Wimunc Plead Guilty, Sentenced to Life in Prison (July 9, 2008)
HOR Oversight Subcommittee on National Security & Foreign Affairs Held a Hearing on Sexual Assault in the Military (July 31, 2008)
History: The Military And Domestic Abuse (2009)
Congress Told That DOD Data on Sexual Assault and Rape in Military Is ‘Lacking in Accuracy, Reliability and Validity’ (2010)
Lauterbach Case Prompts Policy Reforms for Victims of Crime in the Military (December 25, 2011)
Air Force TSgt. Jennifer Norris Testified Before the House Armed Services Committee in Washington DC (January 23, 2013)
Evidence Reveals Army Reserve Recruiter Adam Arndt Murdered High School Student & Recruit Michelle Miller, Then Killed Self; Army Claims Double Suicide (April 8, 2013)
WMAR-2 News: Family of Katherine Morris wants Dept. of Justice to investigate death (August 10, 2015)
An Open Letter to the Senate and House of Representatives in Support of the Military Justice Improvement Act (June 1, 2016)
Army Pfc. Shadow McClaine Reported Missing at Fort Campbell; Ex-Husband Sgt. Jamal Williams-McCray & Spc. Charles Robinson Pleaded Guilty to Murder (September 2, 2016)
Military Policy and Legislation Considerations for the Investigations of Non Combat Death, Homicide, and Suicide of US Service Members (2016)
Army Pvt. Paige Fontenot Briles Found Unresponsive in Vehicle at Fort Hood Housing in Texas; Initially CID Investigated as Homicide But Later Ruled Suicide (December 24, 2016)
30 Domestic Abuse Cases in the Military That Ended in the Murder of Female Partners
48 Hours NCIS Premiered ‘Trail of Fire’ on CBS: Holley Wimunc, Domestic Violence, and the Holley Lynn James Act (June 26, 2018)
Military Families for Justice