Behavioral health focus of Jan. 24 summit

  • Published
  • By Mark Wyatt
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – A Mental Health Leadership Summit is scheduled Jan. 24 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the base conference center for military and civilian directors, first sergeants and other leaders, including from the acquisition directorates, regardless of rank or branch of service.

The one-day event, co-hosted by Family Advocacy and Mental Health, will discuss utilizing local mental health resources, base prevention services and much more.

“There is a stigma about seeking mental health services; the best way to combat this is through awareness and education,” said Dawn Shewmaker, Family Advocacy Program assistant and interim violence prevention integrator. “Organizers have put together this Mental Health Leadership Summit to help educate leaders at all levels to be better ambassadors of mental health services.”

The summit is a coalition of Hanscom organizations in the behavioral health field. The event will close with a question and answer period for attendees.

“This is my fourth time in command and I've learned that, if you're in command, it's not a matter of if you will run into mental health and family advocacy issues, but when,” said Col. Russell Pinard, 66th Medical Squadron commander. “How a commander, or anyone in a leadership position, approaches and deals with these issues makes all the difference in how their unit responds to challenges and ultimately performs their mission.”

Attendees will also hear about Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment services, known as ADAPT.

“It is important commanders refer all service members for assessment when substance use or misuse is suspected to be a contributing factor in any misconduct,” said Dr. (Capt.) Eric An, ADAPT Element leader. “By not meeting this requirement, there is an increased risk for service members in developing severe substance problems, which in turn jeopardizes the mission.”

He added that the better understanding a commander has about the ADAPT program, the more likely they are to make the appropriate referral.

Carolyn McCafferty, Hanscom’s community support coordinator, said that while the summit is valuable for Hanscom leaders, it may be especially helpful for those at geographically separated units.

"This summit will truly help geographically separated units and non-traditional base leaders since they lack the typical structure and support inherent at traditional bases,” said McCafferty. “Attendees will gain a deeper understanding of mental health programs and services as well as share an exchange of experience and outcomes. It will be a win/win of knowledge, networks and connections."

For a full listing of topics covered, click here for the full agenda.

For further information, or to register, contact Dawn Shewmaker at 781-225-6385 or by email at