“In the last five years, 165 soldiers assigned to Fort Hood have died, according to the Fort Hood Public Affairs Office, which regularly released information on soldiers’ death until a 2018 decision to stop the practice. The post was an outlier in this level of transparency.
In those years, seven soldiers died by homicide, while six died in a combat zone. The deaths of 70 soldiers were ruled suicides, and on- and off-base accidents resulted in the deaths of 60 soldiers.”
“Air Force veteran Jennifer Norris believes Fort Hood’s current situation has been years in the making.
For the past decade, Norris, a trained social worker with a master’s degree in public policy, has been tracking crimes committed by and against service members and advocating for reform. She posts her research on her website, Military Justice for All.
She first focused her research on several large military bases, but after noticing a trend of Fort Hood deaths, Norris narrowed her efforts to the Texas post.
‘I didn’t set up to go after Fort Hood at all. It’s a compilation of systematic issues,’ she said.
At the end of 2017, Norris used her own money to travel from her home in Maine to Washington to meet with lawmakers. By the time she got home, Norris said she thought everyone had moved on without intending to address the problems.
‘The other bases are nothing like Fort Hood is right now,’ she said. ‘I think the anomaly with Fort Hood is that its isolated and that it’s such an economic powerhouse in the community that it’s in everybody’s best interest to protect it so they can protect themselves.’”
The bill named in Caserta’s honor would create “Brandon Act” reporting, making it easier for service members to seek mental health care anonymously
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.
When a young US soldier in Afghanistan witnesses other recruits killing civilians under the direction of a sadistic sergeant, he begins to fear that the men he’s serving with might be the ones to kill him. -The Kill Team (October 25, 2019)
“When Andrew Briggman (Nat Wolff), a young soldier in the US invasion of Afghanistan, witnesses other recruits killing innocent civilians under the direction of a sadistic leader, Sergeant Deeks (Alexander Skarsgård), he considers reporting them to higher-ups — but the heavily-armed, increasingly violent platoon becomes suspicious that someone in their ranks has turned on them, and Andrew begins to fear that he’ll be the next target.” –The Kill Team, A24 Films
Editor’s Note: If you would like to see ‘The Kill Team’ documentary released in 2014, please click here to watch the trailer and here to watch it on Prime Video (included with Prime). If you would like to see ‘The Kill Team’ movie released in 2019, please click here to rent or purchase it on Prime Video.
1LT Katie Blanchard, Fort Leavenworth, U.S. Army (2016)
On Tuesday, the man responsible for setting a U.S. Army lieutenant on fire last year was found guilty in federal court.The scars on Army Lt. Katie Blanchards face, neck, and hands are still visible. -41 Action News (August 8, 2017)
Spc. Kamisha Block, Fort Hood, Iraq, U.S. Army (2007)
The family learned Kamisha Block was shot and killed while serving in Iraq. The Department of Defense told the Block family Kamisha was shot in the chest by friendly fire. -12 News Now (February 12, 2019)
AEAN Brandon Caserta, Naval Station Norfolk, U.S. Navy (2018)
As Teri Caserta entered her son’s bedroom in their Peoria home, she broke down. It’s an emotion that Teri and her husband Patrick Caserta will always carry with them. Their son Brandon was in the United States Navy from 2015 to 2018. However, at just 21, Brandon would take his own life. -ABC15 Arizona (June 14, 2019)
LCpl Riley Schultz, Camp Pendleton, U.S. Marine Corps (2019)
The Marine from Colorado found dead at a Southern California base earlier this month died by suicide, according to 1st Lt. Cameron Edinburgh, a Marine Corps spokesperson. -FOX31 Denver (March 27, 2019)