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    After Delays, Army Secretary Signs ‘Brandon Act’ Policy on Self-Referrals for Mental Health Evaluations

    After Delays, Army Secretary Signs ‘Brandon Act' Policy on Self-Referrals for Mental Health Evaluations

    Secretary Christine Wormuth signed instructions for soldiers this week that are intended to improve access to mental health treatment by allowing them to request an immediate referral for an evaluation from a supervisor or commander.

    Following a months-long delay in implementing a Defense Department policy announced in May, Wormuth issued a memorandum to Army commands dated Aug. 29 that institutes the Brandon Act, allowing troops to request a mental health assessment without having to provide any reason or basis.

    Under the policy, entitled “Self-Initiated Referral Process for Mental Health Evaluation of Soldiers,” soldiers can request a referral through their commander or supervisor of the rank of staff sergeant and above who, in turn, must ensure that an appointment occurs “as soon as practicable” and must follow up to make sure the service member is aware of the date, time and location of the evaluation.

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    The policy stems from a provision in the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act named for Navy Aviation Electrician's Mate 3rd Class Brandon Caserta, who died by suicide in 2018, which required the Defense Department and the services to institute a program that protects service members from repercussion or retaliation if they request a mental health evaluation through their…

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