Military life can be demanding, even under the best of circumstances.
But for families with special medical and educational needs, the additional challenges they face can be overwhelming.
The Exceptional Family Member Program is designed to make sure these families receive community support, as well as housing, medical, educational and personnel services.
Families in the Stuttgart military community will now have the additional assistance of an EFMP Systems Navigator — an Army Community Service EFMP staff member who will navigate families with special needs through the available systems of care.
“This [navigator] will be the face of EFMP out in the community — meeting with family members and assisting service members during transition,” said Marisa Willis, the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart ACS EFMP manager.
EFMP’s objective is to support families and to strengthen the link between the family and the services that are available to assist them.
While the program is a component of the Army Family Covenant, in Stuttgart, the commitment to provide service members and families with quality care programs extends to all branches of military service.
The goal, said Willis, is to bridge the gap among services regardless of their branch.
Her vision for 2013 includes partnering with all agencies in the garrison. “I want to link every single organization in the community,” she said.
She is already partnering with Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation to provide entertainment, activities and events for EFMP enrollees.
This year, to celebrate the Month of the Military Child in April, Willis has plans to co-sponsor a talent show for school-aged children with Child, Youth and School Services.
Some EFMP partnerships have been in existence for several years. One of the best known and loved may be the Stuttgart Theatre Center’s holiday performances held exclusively for EFMP enrollees.
Last December, the thespians sponsored a performance of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” followed by a holiday party that featured a visit by Santa.
“I really enjoyed ‘Cinderella.’ I felt special being there,” said Hendrix Diaz-Veale, a 10-year-old fourth grader at Patch Elementary School.
Parents also appreciated the program.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for families to get out and enjoy an event where they don’t have to worry about their kids being shy about their disabilities,” said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Wilson, following the performance.
“It’s good for our daughter to see that she isn’t the only one [who’s] different,” added his spouse, Camille Wilson.
If you have a family member enrolled in the EFMP, check on the enrollment to make sure records are up to date. The Exceptional Family Member Program office is located in Army Community Service, Building 2915, Panzer Kaserne. For more information, visit www.stuttgartmwr.com/acs/efmp/ or call 431-3326/civ. 07031-15-3326.