By Russell Sellers, Army Flier Staff WriterAugust 11, 2011
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Active duty Families with special needs children don’t always get to participate in the same activities as other Families, but Fort Rucker’s Exceptional Family Member Program is looking to change that.
EFMP is in the process of identifying military Families with special needs with the Child and Family Find Campaign during the month of September. Special needs can include physical, intellectual, developmental delays, emotional impairments that require special treatment, therapy, education, and training or counseling needs, said Marion Cornish, post EFMP manager.
“In September, we’re kicking things off with EFMP bowling,” she said. “We’re also going to have a display at the post exchange from Sept. 12-19, which will give parents a chance to get some more information about the program. The bowling is an opportunity for active duty Families with special needs to enjoy themselves and meet other Families like theirs.”
The EFMP “Let’s Roll Bowl” takes place Sept. 19 from 4 to 5 p.m. at Rucker Lanes Bowling Center. Games are free from 4-5 p.m., and will be $1.75 from 5-6:30 p.m. plus a $1.25 shoe rental. Families must register by Sept. 16.
Some other activities will include “Story Time” at the Center Library Sept. 23. No time has been officially set for the event yet. The stories will focus on children with disabilities and the event will also serve to get Families more information about EFMP and to broaden their perspective as to what is a qualifying condition for enrollment, Cornish added.
“Sometimes, Families don’t realize they may be eligible or need to enroll in EFMP,” she said. “For example, if you have a child who has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, they need to be screened for possible enrollment.”
Being part of EFMP can also help Families find and be assigned to posts that are better equipped to deal with their needs.
Enrollment allows the assignment manager at Army personnel agencies to consider the documented medical and special needs of exception Family members in the assignment process. When possible, Soldiers are assigned to an area where the medical and special education needs of their EFM can be met.
This will depend on a valid personnel requirement for the Soldier’s grade, specialty and eligibility for the tour. All Soldiers are still eligible for worldwide assignments.
Having the support and training that comes from being part of EFMP has made some parents’ lives much easier.
“We’ve been in the Army 10 years and with EFMP for nine,” said Kelli Reynoldson, military spouse and mother of a son with special needs. “Being with EFMP can only make your life easier. When you’re about to move and you need to establish a point of contact that understands special needs at the next post, they do a lot of the leg-work for you.”
Reynoldson said meeting other Families with similar situations to her own was also helpful in her four years at Fort Rucker.
“Sometimes you just need to talk with someone who understands what you’re going through,” she said. “If you feel like you have no support or just need a break sometimes, EFMP can open a lot of doors.”
If you are a Soldier with a Family member with a special need or disability, or have knowledge of someone who is disabled or with a special need, contact the EFMP at Lyster Army Health Clinic, 255-7431. Lyster’s EFMP conducts EFM screenings, enrollments, updates and dis-enrollments. According to Amy Regulation 608-75, EFMP requires Soldiers to update EFM enrollment every three years or sooner if services for special needs are no longer required.
For more information on EFMP, call 255-9277.