Exceptional program for exceptional families

Steve McMullen speaks with an Airman regarding the Exceptional Family Member Program, its importance and how it benefits military families around the world, Mar. 27, 2017, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. McMullen is the Airman and Family Readiness Center school liaison officer and the EFMP family support coordinator at Fairchild. He provides coordination of family support services to EFMs who have physical, developmental, emotional or an intellectual impairment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Mackenzie Richardson)

Steve McMullen speaks with an Airman regarding the Exceptional Family Member Program, its importance and how it benefits military families around the world, Mar. 27, 2017, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. McMullen is the Airman and Family Readiness Center school liaison officer and the EFMP family support coordinator at Fairchild. He provides coordination of family support services to EFMs who have physical, developmental, emotional or an intellectual impairment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Mackenzie Richardson)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- The Air Force Exceptional Family Member Program is one of the numerous support resources the Air Force makes available to Airmen and their families to ensure a healthy community and a positive quality of life.

The program focuses on assisting military family members with special needs. All branches of the military offer EFMP and each service offers a variety of family support, personnel and medical resources.

Steve McMullen, Airman and Family Readiness Center school liaison officer and the EFMP family support coordinator, is one of the many minds behind Fairchild’s EFMP.

“As the family support coordinator I help families transitioning in and out of Fairchild,” McMullen said. “It requires an extreme amount of collaboration with our downtown and Seattle partners in ensuring our families receive the best possible care and are educated on family member diagnoses.”

Collaboration with community partners is of the utmost importance. Fairchild does not have many of the extensive and specialized resources the surrounding areas have and being able to have connections gives families an upper hand when searching for the correct resources, McMullen said.

The EFMP family support section provides coordination of family support services to EFMs who have physical, developmental, emotional or an intellectual impairment.

“Supporting members and families that defend the free world and Western civilization is imperative; the support provided keeps fighting forces focused on the mission, it’s a core readiness tenant,” said Christopher Marble, 92nd Force Support Squadron Airman and Family Readiness Center chief.

The family support section works with military families to educate and relieve stress in many different ways including respite care, family fun programs and camps, all free of charge.

“Our programs ease progress and help families with an easy transition into the Fairchild community,” McMullen said. “We have hosted hippotherapy sessions, art, dance and yoga camps. We target children six to 18 years old to have the biggest impact.”

The EFMP is a huge asset to military families all over the world and enrollment is mandatory for all military families with a special needs diagnosis. Although the medical section makes all decisions regarding enrollment, the program specifications are very broad to assist as many families as possible, McMullen said.

“If you aren’t enrolled and have a family member with special needs, you’re lacking the support you need. It’s never fun to be going it alone,” McMullen said. “The Air Force has done a really good job of having a lot of resources available that are all free.”

If McMullen could highlight the most important aspect of the EFMP, he says it would be getting hooked in and meeting other EFMP families.

“Sometimes our families feel isolated. This program is designed to help our families get out, connect and network with one another and know they are not alone,” McMullen said. “There are people out there who go through the same struggles on a daily basis.”

For more information on the Exceptional Family Member Program call the Airman and Family Readiness Center at (509) 247-2246, or visit: www.militaryonesource.mil.