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U.S. military still has not implemented law designed to help troops get mental health help they need

"The Brandon Act" was passed by Congress and signed by President Biden in 2022. Va. Senator Tim Kaine presses department leaders to act.

WASHINGTON — One thing that could help with the military's continuing suicide problem could be "The Brandon Act."

That measure is named for a Norfolk-based sailor Brandon Caserta, who took his own life in 2018.

The Act became law in 2022.

Under it, if a service member seeks mental health services or self-reports a problem, they're supposed to get a mental health evaluation and confidential help outside the chain of command. 

But the Department of Defense still has not issued guidance to the services to put the bill into practice. 

This week, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) pressed the Pentagon to take action.

"We need to see that report about implementation, we need to see it soon, we need to understand that this is not some box-checking thing that people are doing, just to appease us, but you're doing it to meet a need that is a very significant one," said Kaine, during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Kaine directed his comments to Gilbert Cisneros, Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, and Dr. Lester Martinez-Lopez, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. 

Kaine said not taking action on the law is a "re-victimization" for the Caserta family.   

He added: "They will view that as yet another pain that they are suffering at the hands of the United States military."

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