NORFOLK, Va. — In honor of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, an organization is pushing for the inclusion of the Brandon Act in the curriculum of JROTC programs nationwide.
The law is designed to eliminate stigma and improve the referral process for service members seeking a mental health evaluation and allowing them to seek help confidentially.
Named after Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Caserta, who died by suicide in Norfolk in 2018, President Joe Biden signed the legislation into law in December 2021, as part of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act.
The Brandon Caserta Foundation (BCF) proposed informative signage being installed in every JROTC location that would offer students information about the law and where to seek additional resources.
"The Brandon Caserta Foundation welcomes the opportunity to work with the U.S. Army and every branch in increasing awareness about THE BRANDON ACT, especially in these early formative years of these young students who dream of serving their country," Teri Caserta, co-founder of the BCF and Brandon's mother, wrote in a news release. "Our son had the same passion and love for his country and was proud to wear his military uniform."
Patrick Caserta, co-founder of BCF and Brandon's father, said that a partnership between the foundation and the JROTC program "would benefit hundreds of thousands of future servicemembers from the get-go."
"They would learn about the importance of how mental health makes them better soldiers, where the resources are, and how to access them if they are ever in a crisis and feel like they need assistance," Patrick wrote. "We have to remove the stigma of asking for mental health help."