By Airman 1st Class Codie Collins
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Imagine you are 20,000 feet in the air transporting important cargo over the Atlantic Ocean. Your focus needs to be on the he mission, but all you can think about is your children.
How is my daughter going to get the medical care she needs?
Is there going to be support at her school for her learning disability?
The Air Force Exceptional Family Member Program is designed to provide support to military family members with special needs and help eliminate any worry parents struggle with.
“If I can make the quality of life better for even one family, my goal is met,” said Stephen Jones, Airman and Family Readiness Center EFMP coordinator.
An exceptional family member is a family member enrolled in the defense enrollment eligibility reporting system who has a diagnosed physical, intellectual or emotional-psychological condition which requires ongoing specialized medical or educational services.
At the A&FRC, an EFMP Family Support Coordinator is available to ensure each family receives comprehensive coordinated family support through the military and civilian community.
According to the EFMP website, there are three main aspects to support families: relocation, recreation and respite.
A&FRC’s provide incoming and outgoing relocation services to the total force, which includes civilian and contract employees who are relocating.
A&FRC provides relocation information that includes medical and educational information, along with related community agency referrals, housing, employment, financial management, moving with children skills and a number of PCS-related topics.
One-on-one consultation is available to any Airman, Department of Defense civilian or military family member seeking information to support family members with special needs.
Through recreation activities, individuals with special needs can gain new skills, learn what behaviors are accepted and learn how to fit in as a member of a group. Sports, crafts, music, dance, clubs, hobbies and many other types of youth programs are offered through installation, school and community agencies.
The A&FRC and Youth Programs provide assistance to ensure EFMs have access to installation recreation activities.
The Air Force recognizes that parents with children with special needs need a break and have created a respite child care program for military families.
Respite Child Care is designed for active duty, guard and reserve Airmen who have children enrolled in EFMP and diagnosed with moderate or severe special needs. Respite child care is provided to eligible families at no cost to the family. Eligible families may receive up to 12 hours of respite care per month for each eligible child.
“Life can be stressful for military families,” Jones said. “Add other factors to that, it can become overwhelming at times. If we take care of Airmen’s families, they can then relax and focus better on the mission.”
For more information, call Stephen Jones at 501-987-2667 or visit www.afpc.af.mil/Exceptional-Family-Member-Program.