Air Force program takes care of special needs families

Tamika Smith, military spouse, creates crafts with her 12-year-old daughter, Tiana, at the Peach Palette pottery and arts studio in Perry, July 14, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tommie Horton)

 No federal endorsement is intended nor implied.

Tamika Smith, military spouse, creates crafts with her 12-year-old daughter, Tiana, at the Peach Palette pottery and arts studio in Perry, July 14, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tommie Horton) No federal endorsement is intended nor implied.

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The Exceptional Family Member Program has been helping military members since October 2010.

As part of the Airmen and Family Readiness Center, EFMP supports those military members who need assistance with specialty care, mental health and other resources.

An exceptional family member is someone who has been diagnosed with a physical, intellectual or emotional condition which requires ongoing care, according to the Air Force brochure on EFMP.

"We have about 350 active duty members but that doesn't tell the true story," said V. Renea McFeeters, EFMP family support specialist.

Some families may have more than one member who needs the service, and the Department of Defense program doesn't count retirees or civilians who may use some of the services, McFeeters said.

Active duty members who are enrolled in EFMP are also entitled to respite care. 

McFeeters partners with the local Easter Seals organization on an individual basis to provide free child care for families. The service offers 12 hours of child care per month.

The program also holds events throughout the year. 

Eighteen families went to Perry to participate in an EFMP Paint and Pottery event at The Peach Palette on Tuesday, McFeeters said. The 50 parents and children painted a pottery piece during the two-hour occasion.

In August, there will be another event with details to be announced at a later date.

The biggest challenge, McFeeters said, is getting access to the military member's spouse who is usually the person taking care of the child or children. "If they are a stay-at-home mom and need these services, they might not have any idea they are available," she said. 

For more information about the EFMP program and future events, call (478) 926-1259 or by email at Virginia.mcfeeters.1@us.af.mil.