FALLS CHURCH, Virginia –
April was the Month of the Military Child, a month highlighting the important role military children play in the military community. The Air Force surgeon general has made improving support for military children one of his priorities.
The health and well-being of military children is always a priority for military personnel. Their family’s care can greatly impact their mental health and readiness. This is especially true for Airmen and Guardians with children or adult dependents who have specialized care needs and are enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program, or EFMP.
Often, service members enrolled in EFMP have limited assignment options due to the availability of specialized care their child needs. Through a variety of surveys, military members expressed their concern that at times they are ruled out for overseas or remote assignments they feel are needed for career advancement. To increase access to specialized care, the Air Force Medical Service created Developmental and Behavioral Family Readiness Centers, or DBFRC.
"DBFRC is something that we've been working on to improve families' access to the necessary developmental and behavioral support by optimizing existing medical resources," said Air Force Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Robert Miller. "This decreases the impact of specialized medical care as a limiting factor so that more of our service members can go where they are needed to support the mission."
DBFRC functions in a hub-and-spoke model where providers assigned to the hub will support multiple locations by leveraging a mix of virtual health care, teleconsultation and traveling to spoke bases. Each DBFRC hub can support up to 10 bases.
“DBFRC is designed to meet our Airmen and their families where they are,” said Col. Justin Rowberry, DBFRC director. “By nesting a DBFRC team at a larger centralized location, we are able to forward out to provide flexible, cost-effective, and timely care to families in locations where we have low resources.”
Each center will consist of a six-person medical team dedicated to the care of military children no matter where the mission takes them. Teams will be comprised of developmental-behavioral pediatricians and other specialists based on specific regional needs. These specialties may include child psychologists, social workers, child psychiatrists, PLAY autism therapists, speech-language therapists, mental health practitioners or nurse coordinators.
Currently, eight of the nine projected hub sites are operational: Eglin Air Force Base, Florida; Kadena Air Base, Japan; Langley Air Force Base, Virginia; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas; and Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The remaining hub planned for expansion in 2023 will be at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.
Since its implementation, DBFRC has already demonstrated increased access with a reduction in appointment wait times, improved health outcomes and allowed more military families in the EFMP to transfer to locations that best support the mission, according to Rowberry.
"Our service members rely on us to take care of their families. The DBFRC program is not only the right thing to do to support Airmen, Guardians and their families but it also squarely supports our broader Air Force initiatives."Air Force Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Robert Miller Service members and families who need services the DBFRC program provides can contact their primary care manager for a referral to the DBFRC for assistance. Additional resources for family support and local organizations are available at Military OneSource.