LULAC Presents Presidential Medal To Parents Of Navy Seaman Brandon Caserta
Nation’s Largest and Oldest Latino Civil Rights Organization Vows to Step-Up Push for Passage of the Brandon Act
Washington, DC - The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) has presented the organization’s highest recognition to Patrick and Teri Caserta, parents of the 21-year-old Navy aircrew mate who took his life at Naval Station Norfolk. Caserta left the Navy seal training program after suffering an injury and expressed unhappiness that his career opportunities afterward were limited. His parents say their son was being repeatedly bullied, and his superiors failed to act when he displayed symptoms of depression. Caserta died on June 25, 2018, when he walked out on the flight line and jumped into a spinning helicopter tail rotor.
The Caserta couple is now devoting their lives to the passage of the Brandon Act, and say the legislation named after their son will help other servicemembers experiencing a medical crisis requiring psychological care without the fear of retaliation. The LULAC Presidential Medal presentation ceremony was held at the Texas LULAC State Convention in Austin, Texas as part of a special event to honor military veterans and active service members.
“Patrick and Teri Caserta are courageous for sharing the tragic story surrounding their son’s loss,” said Domingo Garcia, LULAC National President. “Also, they are powerful in their determination to fight because they do not want other families to experience the nightmare they have, and so that our country’s men and women in military uniform do not have to endure the pain and humiliation Brandon did, up until the very day he could not any longer,” added Garcia.
In accepting the LULAC Presidential Medal, Patrick Caserta said, “Our son loved the military and loved his country. What happened to him should have never happened and we are working to convince our elected officials in Congress that passing the Brandon Act will benefit our service members and the nation. If this is our son’s legacy, while the pain never goes away, we are forever grateful,” said Caserta.
Teri Caserta, Brandon’s mother added, “Our son loved life and loved people because his gift was his sensitivity for others. Since he was a little boy, he loved helping those he saw going through difficulty or in need. At school, he would give away his lunch money so someone else could eat. Later, when he was older, he would help strangers on the streets. That was just his nature, and I am so glad that the trait most people remember about Brandon was his constant smile, the way he saw life,” she said.
The Brandon Act is part of the Save Our Servicemembers Campaign which also highlights several important initiatives currently underway:
- I Am Vanessa Guillen Act (Rep. Jackie Speier, D-CA)
- Veteran Deportation Prevention and Reform Act (Rep. Mark Takano, D-CA)
- Military Justice Improvement Act (Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, D-NY)
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest Hispanic civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services, and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting the critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit https://lulac.org/