By Oren Liebermann, CNN
The Pentagon has begun implementing a law that requires they provide mental health services for troops seeking help after a delay of more than a year.
On Friday, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Gilbert Cisneros signed a policy to implement the Brandon Act, requiring the military services to provide a mental health evaluation and to allow service members to ask for help confidentially in an attempt to reduce the stigma around mental health.
The services have 45 days to implement the Brandon Act for active-duty troops.
“Our greatest strength is our people, and we are committed to their well-being,” Cisneros said.
CNN first reported earlier this week the implementation was expected to be announced Friday.
The law is named after Brandon Caserta, a 21-year-old sailor who took his own life at Naval Air Station Norfolk in June 2018. In letters to his parents and to his friends, Caserta said he was constantly hazed and bullied in the Navy, and he saw no other way out.
“It took way too long for something like this to take place,” Teri Caserta told CNN earlier this week. “A bill like this that can save military service members’ lives, we should not have had to fight this hard.”
After the Brandon Act was passed into law as part of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, it languished for more than a year as the Defense Department said it was working how best to implement the requirements of the act.
“For over a year, I’ve been working with Brandon Caserta’s family to push the Department of Defense to implement the Brandon Act, which will help servicemembers access the mental health support they need,” said Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine on Friday. “
“The Casertas lost their son under unimaginably horrific circumstances and have turned their grief into an effort to help other servicemembers. I’m glad DOD is finally implementing this important bill to honor Brandon and prevent future tragedies,” Kaine added.
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