EFMP helps families with special needs

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Holly Mansfield
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
If an Airman has a family member with special needs, they can receive help from the Exceptional Family Member Program.

Special needs may include developmental delays, chronic medical/mental conditions and/or physical impairments. The EFMP ensures all active-duty families are located at bases that can provide the medical, mental health or educational services they need while allowing the Airman to continue their mission.

"EFMP is a Defense Department-wide mandatory program," said Janice Smith, 81st Medical Group EFMP special needs coordinator. "We make sure that no matter where the Air Force sends Airmen for the mission, their family members have the educational and medical services they require."

Smith and Melba Harris, 81st MDG EFMP family member relocation coordinator, oversee the program to facilitate the member's permanent change of station to bases that can accommodate the medical and educational needs of families.

"We work with area school districts because a lot of our family members require special programs in the school setting." said Smith. "All of the federally funded schools here on the Coast offer comparable services for ages 3 to 22 years of age, depending on the need."

In order for military members and their dependents to receive the services they require, the EFMP team performs medical records reviews on every outgoing active duty Airman and family assigned to the base. This process ensures that everyone with needs has the required services when the reach their new destination.

"Any family member who sees a medical specialist for a diagnosis outside the primary care setting may meet inclusion criteria for enrollment," Smith said. "We also need to know if they use special medical equipment or have modified housing requirements. Identifying these needs prior to PCS helps ensure a smoother transition at their new base."

For Capt. Mark Lents and his family, the program has been more than helpful during their time at Keesler. Now, during their move to England, the program is helping them ensure services are there to help their son Ledger, who is currently enrolled in speech therapy.

"I was recently deployed and during that time my son started taking a speech class," said Lents, 81st Surgical Operations Squadron operating room nurse. "The program has been very helpful for my son and the rest of my family during our time here, as well as now when we're moving away."

From records checks to helping find a suitable home for military members and their families, the coordinators at EFMP are using practices that are not only good for the patients but also for the military medical staffs at each base around the world.

"This is a very good program," said Col. David Hall, 81st MDG medical staff chief. "We make sure that no one will come to or leave Keesler without knowing that we or the base they are going to have the facilities or services they require to meet their medical and educational needs. That's good medicine and good for the patients."