JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas —
Families at Joint Base San Antonio enrolled in a Department of Defense program that supports military families with special medical and educational needs will have opportunities in 2019 to learn about an array of topics from Medicaid to individualized education programs.
Six topics will be addressed during a series of bimonthly Exceptional Family Member Program parent support group workshops from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Jan. 24, March 28, May 23, July 11, Sept. 5 and Nov. 14 at the JBSA-Randolph Military & Family Readiness Center, building 693.
“I reached out to families in the program and asked them what classes they would like to see,” said Mike Bell, JBSA-Randolph M&FR EFMP coordinator/family support. “The sessions we chose were for the most requested topics. Each workshop will be presented by a subject-matter expert.”
The Exceptional Family Member Program defines family members with special needs as a spouse, child or dependent adult who, regardless of age, “requires medical services for a chronic condition such as asthma, attention deficit disorder, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, etc.; receives ongoing services from a medical specialist; or has significant behavioral health concerns.”
The program also addresses the needs of children through the age of 21 who are eligible for special education services through an individualized education program or early intervention services through an individualized family service plan.
The 2019 schedule will begin Jan. 24 with a workshop on Medicaid that will discuss how to qualify for the program and how it works with TRICARE.
Other workshops planned are:
-- Special Needs Focused Financial Planning March 28, an informational session that will cover unique financial planning needs and strategies for providing a lifetime of care for the special-needs family member.
-- Special Needs Legal Information Briefing May 23, which will address the legal aspects of special-needs trusts; Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE, accounts; guardianship and alternatives; and Social Security Disability.
-- Social Security Retirement, Disability, Survivors and Medicare July 11.
-- Special Education and Individualized Education Programs Sept. 5.
-- Secondary Dependency Determination Nov. 14.
Col. John Blackwell, Air Force Installation and Military Support Center Det. 7 commander, said his family has benefited from EFMP services because it provides “one-stop shopping for local support, activities and education/training opportunities.”
Blackwell said applied behavior analysis, occupational therapy and speech therapy have been essential to his son’s educational, physical and social development.
“When my son was first diagnosed, the EFMP was our gateway to those services,” he said.
Blackwell, whose family has been part of EFMP for 10 years, said the workshops are an example of the support provided by EFMP.
“The presenters lined up for each class are most impressive,” he said. “I’m signed up for the Special Needs Focused Financial Planning workshop and the Special Needs Legal Information Briefing. I recommend that any Airman with a child just starting school sign up for the Special Education and Individualized Education Program workshop.”
Bell, who has served as JBSA-Randolph EFMP coordinator/family support since June, said the workshops will provide participants with in-depth information.
“Sometimes it’s tough for EFMP families to get the answers they need,” he said. “These workshops will help alleviate that.”
In addition to the workshops, the EFMP at JBSA-Randolph will conduct orientation sessions for the program next year, Bell said.
“The orientation sessions will be done in conjunction with newcomers’ briefings,” he said. “The three EFMP components – family support, medical and assignments – will present an overview of the program and let people know what we do. It will also benefit families already enrolled in the program because there’s a lot to know about the program.”
The more support EFMP families receive, the easier it is for the service member to focus on the mission, Bell said.
“When they know their family members are getting the services they need, they’re better able to do their job,” he said. “It’s also easier for them to deploy because they know things are squared away.”
For more information on the workshops and the EFMP, call 210-652-3100.