The Airmen and Family Readiness Center on D-M offers families many opportunities to connect with other families around the base. The Exceptional Family Member Program offers families with special needs a way to get the help and support they need.
The EFMP is a mandatory enrollment program administered by the medical community by all the branches of the military. Each service includes a variety of personnel, medical and family support functions. The EFMP works with key community agencies to identify active-duty sponsors who have family members with special education or medical needs.
“The biggest misconception is what a special need is,” said Tiffany Hornbeek, 355th Force Support Squadron EFMP family support specialist. “Anytime an Airman has a dependant with ongoing medical, educational, or behavioral health needs they should enroll in the program to get help and support.”
One of the goals of the program is to protect the federal entitlements and military benefits of family members as they move around the world with their active-duty sponsors. Air Force Personnel Center assignments, procedures, and programs also coordinate reassignments for active-duty sponsors when one or more family members’ needs cannot be met in the current location.
Special needs coordinators are the point of contact for initiating enrollment in the EFMP. These coordinators evaluate medical and educational information but do not release the family member’s health or educational information to AFPC when initiating enrollment. The coordinator also assists in linking families with medical care after they arrive at a new duty station.
If the family member’s condition meets enrollment criteria, an assignment limitation code is entered in the active-duty sponsor’s electronic personnel record. The sponsor is then “Q-coded,” and medical and educational authorities can now consider special needs when sponsors are projected for assignments. Sponsors who are enrolled in the program are still subject to worldwide assignments, temporary duty, and may be called to serve an unaccompanied tour.
For families enrolled in the program on D-M, there are monthly activities to get families involved in the program and to create social settings for families with special needs.
“We have great families here on the base, but they don’t always know how to connect with each other,” Hornbeek said. “By having social groups, I try to create the environment where I can get people together so they can meet other families and get peer support.”