HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Legislation designed to get military service members mental health help, and pushed for by the parents of a sailor who died by suicide at Naval Station Norfolk, has not yet been implemented within the military despite it being signed into law.
President Joe Biden signed the Brandon Act into law late last year.
Last week, 10 On Your Side learned that three sailors stationed at Naval Station Norfolk have died by suicide in the last three weeks.
“They don’t want [the Brandon Act], so they’re dragging their feet on purpose,” said Patrick Caserta, whose son Brandon Caserta died by suicide at Naval Station Norfolk in 2018. “And the evidence is simple. People are dying. I don’t think it gets any worse than that.”
Multiple sources not authorized to speak publicly tell our investigative team that the sailors who died were assigned to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC) at Naval Station Norfolk. The suicides happened over the course of 16 days, with the latest death happening last Monday.
The Navy has previously said that they are working on an implementation for the Brandon Act. The Navy has not yet commented on the three most recent suicides.
Patrick Caserta tells 10 On Your Side that a family member of one of the sailors has already reached out to them.
“They said their son or daughter would be alive” if the Brandon Act was already in place, Patrick Caserta said.
Since their son’s death, the Casertas have made it their mission to stop the way sailors struggling with mental health problems are treated.
“The legacy is saving lives. That’s what we’re in the business of,” Patrick Caserta said.
Surely it’s a business they wish they never had to be in. They say it’s what Brandon wanted.
“Brandon was the most kindest person,” said his mother, Teri Caserta. “He was generous. He literally loved life.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, now known as the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, at 1-800-273-8255, or call, text or chat 988.