Exceptional Family Member Program provides assistance to Hurlburt families

  • Published
  • By Airman & Family Readiness Center
  • 1st Special Operations Force Support Squadron
Ms. Ruthy Srun is Hurlburt Field's new Exceptional Family Member Program family support coordinator and can be found at the Airman & Family Readiness Center. Hurlburt Field is one of only 35 bases allocated the position, which started Oct. 1, 2010.

The EFMP represents the Air Force's commitment to active-duty personnel whose family members require special attention because of medical, psychological, emotional or educational needs.

The Air Force's goal for the program is to prevent active-duty assignment failures due to lack of resources for exceptional family members and to minimize stress during permanent changes of station.

According to Air Force Instruction 40-701, "Special Needs Identification and Assignment Coordination," enrollment in the program "is mandatory for active-duty members whose family member conditions are determined meet enrollment criteria."

The EFMP consists of the medical portion, the assignment portion and the family support function. Ms. Srun said her role is to provide family support, which is the only one of three program functions that is not mandatory.

"My role is to ensure families with special needs dependents are provided information on community resources at current and future assignments by sharing information on upcoming events, providing literature on topics of interest, sponsoring support groups and advocating for families' needs," said Ms. Srun. "The goal is to hopefully lessen some stress as families move and orient to a new location as well as while they are stationed here at Hurlburt."

With those goals in mind, she is already planning events for EFMP families. For example, Exceptional Connections, a support group, is scheduled to meet for the first time Jan. 7 from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at the A&FRC. And a "sensory friendly film" is scheduled to show at the Commando Auditorium Jan. 28 at 5:30 p.m.

The EFMP and School Liaison Officer Open House is scheduled for Feb. 22 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the A&FRC. The intent of the open house is to let Airmen and their families know what services are available for them both on and off base.

"Through these events, I hope that families enrolled in the program will be able to share resources, ideas, information and really just get a sense that they are not alone and that we are here for them," said Ms. Srun.

"There are so many misconceptions about the EFMP; that it will allow families to remain at a base where they are satisfied with the services that are available, that they won't be able to PCS or that it will damage the AD member's career, and these are just not true. The Air Force wants to ensure members are mission- ready and family members are cared for."

The Military Personnel Flight handles the mandatory assignments function of the program and addresses both issues by ensuring the base for each Airman's next permanent change of station provides the services the family requires.

The program's medical function, also mandatory, requires screening of family members at the medical treatment facility for a range of exceptional needs, from autism and Down syndrome to asthma and cancer. An exceptional need is defined as one that requires specialized care for an ongoing chronic illness.

Ms. Srun said she plans to hold workshops for parents, bring special and educational programs on base, and is happy to hear what those in the program are interested or in need of receiving. Right now, she is trying to assess the needs of the community.

"I want to let people know I'm here," she said. "I will assist families with whatever needs they have."

For more information on the EFMP, call Ms.Srun at 884-6830 or e-mail her at ruthy.srun@hurlburt.af.mil.