EFMP: 'It's not scary'

  • Published
  • By Raquel Sanchez
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
A permanent change of station can be challenging for any family let alone a family with dependents who have special needs and require additional services to care for their dependents.

The Exceptional Family Member Program is designed to take care of Airmen and their dependents with special needs before, during and after a permanent change of station to make their transition to a new base easier.

EFMP provides support, information and resources to military dependents with special needs which may include long-term medical, physical, psychological or educational conditions requiring treatment. 

"The most important thing to know about the program is that it's not scary" said Ruthy Srun, 1st Special Operations Force Support Squadron EFMP Family Support coordinator.

Often families with special needs feel alienated as they move to a new duty station, and work to find programs to assist their family members.

Enrollment in EFMP is mandatory for Air Force families who have a dependent with special needs to ensure adequate care is provided for their dependents as they move from base to base.

"The purpose of EFMP is to assist families as they PCS from one base to another," said Srun. "If there is a dependent that has special needs, bases make sure the next base can take care of that family."

There are three sides to EFMP: medical, assignments and family support. EFMP Family Support coordinators assist families by offering support, coordinating events, and locating support services on base and within the community.

The Airman & Family Readiness Center on base provides a wide range of family support services which are open to spouses, children and dependent elderly who have special needs.

Under EFMP, families can receive relocation assistance, information and referrals for base and community programs, one-on-one consultations and enrollment in support groups.

Families may also participate in a variety of EFMP activities on base like summer camps, fitness classes and quarterly showings of sensory friendly movies.

EFMP activities are not only for children. The Exceptional Fitness class held at the Riptide is a fitness and nutrition program designed for teens and adults.

"Exceptional Fitness is specifically geared towards teens and adults that may have special needs and may want to participate in a fitness and nutrition class but may not have been able to do so before or may not have felt comfortable doing so in the general population" said Srun.

The base library also has several online resources available to families. Under the Learning Express Library, families can find an entire learning center dedicated to helping them find the resources they need to improve in school, work or in life.

Another unique benefit that is available to EFMP families on base is the Nature Connection Environmental Learning Center in the Hurlburt Field Library.

"There's a lot of research out there that shows that spending time in nature is beneficial to people with attention deficit disorder and people with autism" said Vicky Stever, 1st Special Operations Force Support Squadron Library director.

This certified outdoor classroom provides an alternative way of learning that connects people of all ages to nature and includes a reading, music, and nature art area.

Families with special needs do not have to be already enrolled in EFMP to use these services or to participate in activities on base.

For more information about EFMP, contact A&FRC at 884-5441 or visit www.militaryonesource.com. To learn more about the library's online resources visit www.commandolibrary.com.