Air Force Featured Stories

Brandon Act expedites mental health care referrals for Airmen, Guardians

  • Published
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

Airmen and Guardians can expect to see an additional referral process for mental health care as the Brandon Act is implemented throughout Air Force and Space Force installations.

The Brandon Act is intended to help identify and get care for mental health concerns by making it easier to access – and required of leaders to take seriously – mental health support by referencing “The Brandon Act” when they need a referral to mental health services.

The Brandon Act is named after Navy Aviation Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Brandon Caserta, who died by suicide in 2018. Teri and Patrick Caserta, Brandon’s parents, have been a driving force in implementing the Brandon Act.

“I spoke with the Caserta family and listened to their experience,” said Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall. “They bravely shared the story of their son in hopes to help save others. We must honor their spirit and remind every supervisor and leader in the Air Force and Space Force of their duty and legal obligation to help fellow teammates who ask for assistance.”

“The path for the Brandon Act has been long,” said Teri Caserta, mother of Petty Officer Caserta. “But as each military service implements the act, it has renewed our hope. A hope that these new rules will save the lives of those who are serving on our behalf.”

“As leaders and supervisors learn about the Brandon Act, we hope it lifts the stigma that some have when asking for help,” said Patrick Caserta, father of Petty Officer Caserta. “Asking for help is an act of courage and mature judgement — in our call with Secretary Kendall, we believe we have the right leaders to help lead the change and improve our military and save lives. We want to thank Secretary Kendall for embracing and implementing the Brandon Act. We appreciate the hard work that he has and continues to do for our Airmen and Guardians.”

When Airmen and Guardians voluntarily request a mental health referral by contacting their commander or supervisor (in the grade of E-6 or above) it invokes the Brandon Act and expedites the process. Service members may request a referral for any reason, including, but not limited to personal distress, personal concerns or trouble performing their duties. They are not required to provide a reason or basis for the referral.

It is mandatory for commanders and supervisors to honor a Brandon Act request.

The Department of the Air Force program will be called the Brandon Act – The Commander/ Supervisor Facilitated Referral Program.

“The care and well-being of our Airmen is always our top priority,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass. “I’m encouraged by initiatives, like the Brandon Act, that ensure our people have multiple paths to seeking care for mental health concerns they are experiencing.”

A mental health evaluation referral request can be made by active-duty members at any time and in any environment, including deployed locations. Members can be active duty, in active-duty status as a member of the select Reserve, assigned to a temporary duty station or on leave.

“Few things are more important than improving access to mental health are and every improvement matters,” said Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force Roger A. Towberman.

Once members request assistance under the Brandon Act, their commander or supervisor must contact the mental health clinic and request an appointment for the member the same or next day. The mental health provider will do either a face-to-face, telephonic or telehealth appointment.

A referral under the Brandon Act differs from a command-directed or independent referral in several ways. A Brandon Act referral is initiated by the service member to their commander/supervisor, while a command-directed mental health referral is initiated by a commander or supervisor and is mandatory. An independent self-referral is handled completely by the member themself.

Additionally, the service is working to develop annual training on how to recognize if someone may need a mental health evaluation based on behavior or imminent danger for commanders/supervisors. The training will also include how a member may obtain a Brandon Act referral that protects their privacy. Further information on the training will be released as it becomes available.

Additional mental health resources include the 988 Veterans Crisis Line, Military OneSource nonmedical counseling, and the 24/7 Psychological Health Resource Center. For more information, visit health.mil/brandonact

Visit the DAF Resilience site to view the Brandon Act leadership memorandum, FAQs and fact sheet.