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NEWS | Aug. 14, 2013

EFMP, understanding what might truly be… exceptional

By Master Sgt. Joseph Helferich 628th Communications Squadron first sergeant

According to Department of Defense instruction, family members identified with special medical or educational needs, including a spouse, child or a dependent adult, are required to enroll in the Exceptional Family Member Program. This includes family members who:

· Require special medical services for a chronic condition such as asthma, attention deficit disorder, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, etc.

· Receive ongoing services from a medical specialist

· Have significant behavioral health concerns

· Receive early intervention or special education services through an individualized education program or individualized family service plan

What all of this doesn't tell you, especially new supervisors, is each and every case is different. You might have known someone during a previous assignment who had a family member with a disability and they didn't have very many issues. Then you reported to a new assignment and one of your Airmen is facing a similar situation, but is asking for what seems to be a lot more time off for appointments, meetings, etc. Before deciding if the extra time is valid, you need to find out what that person's unique situation is and then make an informed decision. It is quite possible your Airman doesn't know all the resources available to them and are overwhelmed trying to shoulder the burden alone.

Some of the resources on and around Joint Base Charleston are the Exceptional Family Member Program Coordinator office, Parents Reaching Out to Parents of South Carolina, and the Family Connection.

The Exceptional Family Member Program - Family Support is the community support function provided by the Airman & Family Readiness Center and includes, but is not limited to, on and off-base information and referral, parent training, support groups, relocation assistance, financial management and school information.

PRO Parents of South Carolina, Inc., is a private, nonprofit organization which provides information and training about education to families of children with all types of disabilities.

Also, Family Connections is a statewide nonprofit organization which links families of children with special healthcare needs and disabilities, with resources, support and education. They provide support to parents with a child or family member with any special healthcare needs, such as an upcoming surgery, developmental delays, premature birth, physical limitations and all diagnoses including autism, asthma, ADHD and cerebral palsy.

I have a lot of personal experience with this program and resources and they work! You never know if or when you might need to direct someone to one of these resources or have use of them yourself. Keep this information handy as it can and will make a difference.