First ever AFRC Mental Health Symposium comes to Joint Base Charleston

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jeffrey Fitzmorris
  • AFRC
Military personnel and mental health experts from Air Force Reserve Command gathered at Joint Base Charleston, S.C., on Friday for the inaugural 2024 AFRC Mental Health Symposium. The symposium focused on the importance of mental well-being in today's military conflicts. According to Maj. Anthony Niederriter, 911th Aeromedical Staging Squadron mental health nurse, Pittsburgh, Pa., and instructor at the symposium, the event provided an opportunity for learning, collaboration, and awareness.  "We need to prepare for current and future conflicts,” he said. “This will teach us how to manage where mental health is and help us collaborate and make these connections across the Air Force, because it is a big Air Force, and there are usually just a couple of mental health assets on each base. So this is everybody getting together, exchanging ideas, finding out what works at one place, best practices, and what we can do differently.” Niederriter continued by saying collaboration is key and addressing mental health issues works to improve the overall resilience of our troops and enhance their ability to perform in high-stress environments. The symposium featured a series of briefings covering topics such as readiness, patient movement, deployments, spinal injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and exercises for mental health. These discussions provided valuable insights and strategies for supporting the mental health needs of military personnel. Maj. Matthew Waller, 911 ASTS mental health nurse and another instructor at the symposium, highlighted how Joint Base Charleston has a strong mental health presence and was the perfect place to host the event. "It's great to have this symposium hosted at Charleston Air Force Base, where we have a strong community of support for mental health initiatives," said Waller. "The resources and expertise available here make it an ideal location for fostering discussions and collaborations that can benefit our service members." The symposium highlighted the importance of prioritizing mental health in the military and underscored Joint Base Charleston's commitment to promoting its personnel's well-being.  “AFRC is committed to ensuring the mental health wellness and resilience of all service members,” said Niederriter. “We will continue to make these efforts a top priority for our members, leaders, and mental health professionals as the challenges of modern warfare continue to evolve.”