Hurlburt Field families: never forgotten, never left behind

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Benjamin Kim
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
Unforeseen obstacles can hit families across the whole demographic spectrum, and the strongest of families can be blindsided by the daunting words of a doctor's diagnosis.

The Exceptional Family Member Program attempts to make it clear: these families are not alone, and the EFMP is here to help with dedicated workers and an array of services and events.

A simple, passing glimpse of one of these events will show what the EFMP is all about.

At one of these EFMP sponsored events, dozens of families played beach games, paddle surfed, kayaked, and feasted on freshly grilled hot dogs provided by the Exceptional Family Member Program at the Hurlburt Field Soundside Marina July 27.

"[The EFMP] is a mandatory program for active duty members who have dependants with special needs," said Ruthy Srun, 1st Special Operations Force Support Squadron EFMP family support coordinator. "It's really hard when you have a child or a spouse who has a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder or multiple sclerosis or any type of medical condition, to really understand that there are other people out there who are going through the same thing--it's really important for them to know that."

The efforts of the workers produced nothing short of smiles that glistened across the faces of children in a backdrop abundant with joyous, adolescent laughter audible from a distance. The intangible success, however, showed in the communion of parents.

"Really, the main focus of this event and every EFMP event is to connect the families," Srun said.

Frequent contact with other parents who are in similar situations reap a host of benefits.

"I think it's important because a lot of families who have special needs benefit from a network of support, and the events through the Airman and Family Readiness Center really help provide that network," said Capt. John Hurt, 1st Special Operations Wing chaplain. "For the parents, it's great because we always end up talking to each other about different types of therapies and programs that the military and local community have to offer, so we get all kinds of good insights on how to take care of our kids."

While parents receive ample support, these events make it a point to create an enjoyable atmosphere for the children.

"I look forward to the events every month because my daughter really loves it," said Hurt. "She feels comfortable and they make sure that they do something that's geared toward children with special needs."

Hurt said that it is a safe environment for children and they can make friends and simply have a good time with other families.

"We wouldn't do it on our own if it weren't for this program," Hurt said.

For more information about EFMP, contact the A&FRC at DSN: 884-5441 or visit To learn more about the library's online resources visit