KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany - Military families with special needs can have a difficult time in overseas locations, but the USAG Rheinland-Pfalz Exceptional Family Member Program can help make life easier.
Enrollment in the EFMP, a part of Army Community Services, begins with a visit to the family's primary care manager to see if the family member meets certain criteria.
"The Army has criteria which establishes who is able to enroll in the EFMP," said Ariana Oregel, EFMP program manager. "The medical component is handled through the primary care manager, and the ACS Family Services side does all of the non-medical case management and command sponsorship assistance."
Oregel said family members do not need to have obvious disabilities to be enrolled in the EFMP.
"It could be severe allergies, diabetes or anything you might see your doctor for at least twice a year," she said. "So we have a wide range of diagnoses. That also includes educational disabilities like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder."
"Housing is another issue," said Kelley Hood, EFMP systems navigator. "If a family is assigned the third floor in a stairwell, but has an EFMP family member, we can work with them and Housing to get a more accessible home."
Because of her position, Hood is allowed to attend Individualized Education Program meetings. An IEP is a written document created by a teacher and the parents of a special needs student.
"It can be overwhelming for the parent to have five or six educators there telling parents what their child needs. It can be very emotional," Hood said. "But, I'm allowed to be in the meeting and take minutes and notes and the parents can come to me afterwards and ask questions."
Oregel is the EFMP program manager, with an office on Kleber Kaserne, while Hood works out of Baumholder. Both are licensed social workers. Both positions had been open for "a while," so Oregel and Hood are worried families who may have moved into the area in the last 10 months have no idea the program is up and running again.
"We want families who have moved into the USAG RP footprint since last April to contact us if they have a family member with any kind of special needs," Oregel emphasized.
The EFMP offers support groups, play groups, trips, books and toys among other help aides for special needs family members.
"We want ideas," Hood said. "We have resources, but we want to use them wisely on what our EFMP community wants and needs."
"We're here to help with the process," said Oregel. "Sometimes, parents don't have anywhere to start. We're here to alleviate that stress."
In Kaiserslautern, the EFMP office is in Building 3210 on Kleber Kaserne, Room 204. The phone number is 0611-143-541-9024 (DSN 541-9024).
In Baumholder, the EFMP office is in Building 8746, Room 221 on Clinic Kasern. The phone number is 0611-143-531-2877 (DSN 531-2877).