Henderson Hall hosts first Joint Services Disability Awareness Fair
Vickie O'Brien (left), the attorney for Exceptional Family Members Program Marine Corps Installations East, and keynote speaker Dr. Rebecca Posante, deputy director of the Office of Community Support for Military Families with Special Needs, Office of the Secretary of Defense, answer questions during the Saturday fair.

The Exceptional Family Member Program at Marine Corps Community Services Henderson Hall spearheaded, with the Air Force, Army and Navy the first annual Joint Services Disabilities Awareness Resource Fair and Roundtable Discussion for military Families March 26 at Henderson Hall Smith Gym.

The goal of this event was to create a one stop shop for military Families to connect with military and community organizations that cater to childhood development, special needs, medical needs and advocacy," said Jen Wong, training, education and outreach specialist for EFMP.

Vickie O'Brien, attorney for exceptional Family members Marine Corps Installations East, pinpointed exactly why an event like this is so important.

''If you add a special need into a permanent change of station move, not only are they struggling with the move and the separation, all these things the normal military Family goes through, they have that added layer of having to deal with the disability of some kind," she said.

The keynote speaker, Rebecca Posante, deputy director of the Office of Community Support for Military Families with special needs, Office of the Secretary of Defense and a panel of subject matter experts, including O'Brien, retired Lt. Col. Scott Campbell, parent advocate and public speaker and Lois Deuel, an Army spouse and parent advocate attended the event.

Posante discussed the history of EFMP, its status now and what initiatives are planned from OSD. She suggested using resources available on the Military Homefront website.

''I encourage all of you to go to our website and subscribe to our newsletter," she said.

''This fair was absolutely fantastic. The range of panel speakers from the Office of Secretary of the Defense all the way down to a parent of a special needs Family member, who is still on active duty. You had the absolute entire range from them to answer questions," said Master Gunnery Sgt. Will Mahoney, father of two children with special needs. ''It's good for parents to hear what the folks from other services are getting, so we can work for the same things for our services," said Campbell who also has a child with autism. ''Particularly, the Marine Corps has excellent services. Well, the other ones, Navy, Army and Air Force need to be working towards the same services the Marines Corps provides," he said.

The 25 plus organizations participating at the event are located in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia.

''It's important to have state and national resources, so even if these Families move, they will be able to recognize [agencies who can support them] anywhere they go," Wong said.

For more information about the Marine Corps EFMP, view the website online at http://www.mccshh.com/efmp.html.

Page last updated Thu April 7th, 2011 at 14:24