EFMP provides support, morale

by Airman 1st Class Ciara M. Travis
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Eleven months ago, the Exceptional Family Member Program revamped its services offering both medical and family support services.

Since the revamp, exceptional family members have experienced both a medical and a force support aspect of the EFMP.

The program works like this: once a family member is identified as special needs, the sponsor must automatically enroll in the EFMP.

After enrollment, the EFMP ensures service members and their family are accommodated with a location that offers proper medical attention.

A morale event is just one example of a service offered on the support side. The latest event was a trip to the Dynamikum Science Center in Pirmasens Aug. 19.
The trip was set up after the Ramstein Officers’ Spouses Club made a donation that covered the expenses for the exceptional family members and their family to attend the museum.

“I think the EFMP used to be viewed as a negative thing to be associated with, because people thought it would constrain them,” said Nancy Hoehn,
86th Force Support Squadron family support coordinator. “Now, it’s made to make things easier for families. With both medical and services combined, we can provide much more to the families enrolled.”

The support service aspect of the EFMP offers programs to help families get comfortable in their location and bond with other families in a similar situation.
“The trip to this museum really showed family members they could bond with other people in their situation,” said Dr. (Maj.) Eric Flake, 86th Medical Group developmental pediatrician.

Flake insisted that sometimes families need more than just the medical aspect, he said.

“The first years of diagnosis are always the hardest,” Flake said. “So support of any kind is really good for these families.”

After a day of bonding between family members, one thing was clear ― the morale and support is key in helping these families bond.

“I was really surprised to find that there were other people in the group who I knew outside of the program,” said Jordan Van Parys, 12, daughter of Lt. Col. Matthew Van Parys, 426th Network Warfare Squadron. “It’s nice to not be alone in our situation.”

With at least 2,000 exceptional family members in the KMC, Flake suggests it’s important to know the level of the community is measured by how people with special needs are treated.

“Be sensitive,” Flake said. “You may see them in public and not understand why their behavior is the way it is. Their condition could be underlying and unrecognizable to the naked eye. Just be sensitive to those situations.”

For members enrolled in the EFMP, the events are endless. One event to look forward to would be the new KMC Youth Sports program developed to cater to children with special needs.

The program is open to children ages 5 to 15 and the emphasis of the program is to assist parents and children on working together to develop new skills and connect with other families.

For more information, call Ramstein Youth Sports at 480-5660/6444 or 06371-47-5600 or register online at www.86fss.com.