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EFMP assists more than 1,000 military families

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Sergio Rios, the commander of the 6th Force Support Squadron, speaks with parents about the Exceptional Family Member Program at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Feb. 5, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Sergio Rios, the commander of the 6th Force Support Squadron, speaks with parents about the Exceptional Family Member Program at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Feb. 5, 2018. The EFMP is a Department of Defense mandated program and enrollment is required for dependents with special medical or educational needs lasting longer than six months. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

Nelly Richards, the school liaison officer assigned to the 6th Force Support Squadron, takes notes during an open forum town hall meeting at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Feb. 5, 2018.

Nelly Richards, the school liaison officer assigned to the 6th Force Support Squadron, takes notes during an open forum town hall meeting at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Feb. 5, 2018. Currently, there are more than 1,000 EFMP families stationed at MacDill with 558 being Air Force families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

Navigating through the medical and educational system for any child can be difficult. The Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, makes it easier by offering a variety of services and resources for military families with children who have special needs.

The EFMP is a Department of Defense mandated program across all branches of service.

Personnel who have family members with special medical or educational needs lasting longer than six months are required to enroll in the EFMP. This includes children, spouses and dependent adults who require special medical services for a chronic condition, receive ongoing services from a medical specialist, have significant behavioral health concerns, and/or receive early intervention or special education services.

“Currently, there are more than 1,000 EFMP families stationed at MacDill and 558 of those families are Air Force families,” said Venetia D. Waters, an EFMP family support coordinator assigned to the 6th Force Support Squadron. 

Furthermore, the EFMP helps military families in two significant ways: assignment coordination and family support.

“I have been enrolled in the EFMP for five years for my son,” said Chief Master Sgt. Melody Goitom, the superintendent assigned to the 6th FSS. “I think some positives of being enrolled are the information and resources that are available to the parents, the social network given for similar families, and the exclusive programs that are provided to families.”

For active duty service members, moving is part of the job. As a result, families with special needs can receive expedited assignment coordination that takes medical documentation into consideration.

“Being enrolled in EFMP gives me an expedited transfer process when relocating,” said Goitom.

In addition to assignment coordination, family support can come in many different forms.

One way is through respite, which simply means a short period of rest, and it is another highlight of being enrolled into EFMP. 

“As of this year, respite hours for Air Force families have increased from 12 hours to 40 hours for the year per family,” said Waters.

Increasing the respite hours gives parents more time off while also giving peace of mind that either a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse will be overseeing their child during the respite hour usage.

“The Air Force really takes care of its own and this is just another way they demonstrate that,” said Waters.

For any questions or assistance with enrollment, call 813-828-0122 or visit EFMP Family Support at the Military and Family Readiness Center located at 8105 Condor Street, Bldg. 18.