Bozho (Hello),

Good news! I have received word that the U.S. Air Force has new mental health policies under the Brandon Act. Air Force and Space Force members now have more mental health care options, including the ability to request referrals for mental health evaluations. A memo dated July 28, 2023, outlines the specific guidance. Empowering and enabling Airmen and Guardians to seek and receive care when needed is an absolute imperative and key to institutional readiness and operational success. The Brandon Act is named for Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Caserta, who died by suicide in June 2018. Caserta had dropped out of SEAL training following an injury and did not have access to mental health resources. Caserta was found to have been bullied and harassed by a supervisor prior to his suicide. The act passed as part of the 2022 fiscal year National Defense Authorization Act. Under the new policies, any junior enlisted personnel or guardian can request that a supervisor with the rank of E-6 or above provide a referral for mental health evaluation. Service members do not need to provide a reason why they are requesting a referral for a mental health evaluation, and it is on commanding officers and supervisors to make that referral as soon as possible. The number of suicides of veterans and active-duty personnel has become alarming. The reports are daily, and that is unacceptable in a nation with our worldwide influence. I had not planned to write about this issue, but I received this report as I was beginning to write, and I felt it was a message that I was meant to share. I am so relieved that our military has seen the need and acted on it. Migwetch and amen!

Remember, our monthly meeting of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Veterans Organization is the 4th Tuesday of each month, Sept. 26 (unless otherwise notified due to weather or conflicting events) at 6 p.m. (or as soon as you can get there) in the North Reunion Hall on the CPN Powwow Grounds. All CPN veterans and spouses and their families are welcome. Membership in the veterans organization is not required; come and visit us and enjoy our socializing. For more information, you can contact Daryl Talbot.

Migwetch (Thank you),

Daryl Talbot, Commander