By Mr. Ramee Opperude (Regional Health Command Pacific)April 3, 2018
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, (March. 31, 2018) -- The 1st Annual 'Little Warriors' Field Training Exercise took place on Weyand Field during the Fun Fest, here, March 31, 2018.
The event offered games and activities designed for those with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families. In addition to the obstacle course and battle exercise the Tripler Army Medical Center (TAMC) Neurodevelopmental Pediatrics Clinic arranged for static displays and demonstrations of Soldier tactics.
"The event came from our Pediatric Neurologist at Tripler, wanting to create an event for children enrolled within her neurodevelopmental clinic (muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy for instance). Children enrolled in Maj. Rahe Hiraldo's clinic often have neuromuscular disabilities. The team came together and recommended that the event include more EFMP enrolled children with physical, developmental, or mental disabilities", said Lt. Col. Kathy Presper, deputy commander for nursing, USAHC-SB.
Despite the wet conditions, the 'Little Warriors' successfully navigated the obstacle course and the field battle exercise under the watchful eye of dozens of volunteers from the 25th Infantry Division, the USAHC-SB, TAMC and the Warrior Transition Battalion.
"We are very thankful for the volunteers we have, we have over 70 volunteers today. Once we were able to get a few to commit, we were able to put this together", said Sgt. Hugo Zulojeda, noncommissioned officer in charge, Neurodevelopmental Pediatric Clinic.
Military Families with a special needs Family member, also known as an Exceptional Family Member (EFM), often require additional help in meeting the EFM's needs. To support Families with special needs, the Army created the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) in the early 1980's.
"These events provide inclusion of children with special needs who may have physical, developmental, or mental disabilities to participate within a setting supporting everyone. Unknowingly and not maliciously too often special needs families have been segregated," said Presper.
"We would like the EFMP tent to be a yearly presence at the Fun Fest, improving upon the activities for the special specials children with participatory themes making it interactive for the families. Special needs families are raising their voices so that we can hear them. They want to be included within the mainstream," added Presper.
The Army designed the EFMP to be a comprehensive, coordinated, multi-agency program that provides community support, housing, medical, educational, and personnel services to military Families with an EFM.
Approximately 10% of Army Families have members with special needs, including spouses, children, or dependent parents who require special medical or educational services.