LULAC HONORS BRANDON CASERTA WITH POSTHUMOUS MEMBERSHIP AHEAD OF WREATH-LAYING CEREMONY AT ARLINGTON CEMETERY
Nation's Oldest and Largest Latino Civil Rights Organization Remembers Navy Service Member Being Saluted at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
October 20, 2023
For more information, contact David Cruz at (818) 689-9991
Washington, DC - LULAC proudly announces the first-ever posthumous membership in its 95-year history to Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Caserta, the namesake of THE BRANDON ACT. This historic occasion takes place as we prepare to commemorate Brandon's legacy with a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington Cemetery on October 23, 2023, at 11:00 AM ET. To watch the ceremony live, please visit LULAC's official website. Many elected and military leaders who led the fight for THE BRANDON ACT will attend the historic ceremony including Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA)
Domingo Garcia, LULAC national president, expressed the significance of this moment, stating, "I cannot think of a moment or person more fitting in LULAC's history to be granted the first posthumous membership. Brandon Caserta gave his life, not out of weakness, but in a moment of decision. He told his parents his act was so that action would be taken to make conditions in the military better and safer for other service members. The wreath laying at Arlington Cemetery is an important part of the healing and reconciliation so that our military can be stronger and ready always to defend our nation."
Brandon Caserta tragically passed away by suicide in June 2018 in Norfolk, Virginia. His untimely death is a stark reminder of our armed forces' urgent need for mental health support. His pleas for help were met with indifference from a toxic command environment marred by chronic bullying, harassment, and assault.
Roman Palomares, LULAC Military and Veterans Affairs Committee chair emphasized LULAC's commitment to this cause: "LULAC is proud to stand with Patrick and Teri Caserta and with our service members being protected by THE BRANDON ACT. Over the past many months since Brandon's tragic death, we have worked tirelessly with the Department of Defense to rebuild the trust in our military within the Latino community. This ceremony is a vital step in that process. We welcome Brandon to LULAC, a member forever."
Following his death, investigators discovered a heartfelt letter addressed to his parents, Teri and Patrick Caserta. In this poignant letter, Brandon implored them to undertake the mission he could not complete himself: to ensure that military service members could access mental health services without requiring approval from their commanders and without fear of retaliation. Determined to honor their son's memory, Teri and Patrick Caserta tirelessly championed the cause and secured bipartisan support in Congress for the passage of THE BRANDON ACT. President Biden signed this transformative legislation into law in December 2021. Today, all service branches of the Department of Defense have implemented THE BRANDON ACT, and the U.S. Coast Guard is doing the same under the Department of Homeland Security.
Patrick Caserta, Brandon’s father, and co-author of THE BRANDON ACT offered these heartfelt words, "We lost our only son to suicide and are working hard every day to fulfill his wish to help save other service members. Brandon's legacy is THE BRANDON ACT, and this wreath-laying ceremony acknowledges his sacrifice so others could live."
Teri Caserta, Brandon's mother, and president of the Brandon Caserta Foundation, expressed their family's enduring commitment, stating, "We miss Brandon terribly every day and will always feel the pain of his loss. However, he left us an important job: ensuring every military service member gets the help they need when experiencing a mental health crisis. That is the law now, and we're proud THE BRANDON ACT is making that possible. No man or woman in military uniform should ever have to feel alone again."