PEORIA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — A Peoria couple is on a mission to help save lives in the military. Patrick and Teri Caserta helped pass legislation that makes mental health resources more accessible for service members. The parents are doing it to honor their son, who died by suicide in 2018.
“He had a smile that made you want to smile,” said Patrick Caserta. The Casertas said their son Brandon Brandon was bullied and hazed while serving in the Navy. He reportedly told his higher-ups he was depressed, but Brandon’s parents say his calls for help went unanswered. “They told him to suck it up and get back to work,” said Patrick Caserta.
The Casertas are now fighting for change to prevent future tragedies. The Brandon Act passed through the Senate last week and is now heading to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law. “It is a life-saving tool and it empowers service members to get mental health help when they need it, as they need it,” said Patrick Caserta.
Under the law, service members who need help can use the safe words “Brandon Act.” They can bypass reporting issues to their commanding officers and get confidential mental health support. “It is a true victory for the service members. This is huge for the service members. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it is and it is the start of a foundation we can build on,” said Patrick Caserta.
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