Air Force implements options for Exceptional Family Members during pandemic
By Shireen Bedi, Air Force Surgeon General Public Affairs
/ Published April 10, 2020
FALLS CHURCH, Virginia --
The Air Force is providing additional support to Airmen with exceptional family members during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Exceptional Family Member Program instituted new support to minimize the impact caused by department COVID-19 policies, including the Stop Movement order and social distancing guidelines.
The Air Force is relying more on virtual platforms and tools for screenings. However, families with urgent, humanitarian or hardship duty station changes will continue to have required screenings completed.
Beginning April 15, EFMP families can initiate their Family Member Travel Screening package online.
“This allows Airmen to initiate and track their package, as well as allow for direct messaging to get additional updates,” said Catheryn Mauro, Senior Topic Specialist for EFMP. “We understand how time consuming and frustrating the screening process can be. Using this virtual platform will give these families back precious time they would have otherwise spent on forms and appointments.”
The virtual platform will be available here, Exceptional Family Member Program Log-In, and is a Common Access Card enabled site, meaning only CAC holders have access.
In response to the pandemic and to ensure all Air Force members and their families are safe, some preventative medical procedures and tasks have been postponed, including a pause on routine medical clearance appointments required for a permanent change-of-station until June 1.
The Air Force is addressing EFMP families concerns on how these changes will impact their ability to get the necessary medical clearances completed once the current Stop Movement orders and restrictions are lifted. EFMP families are often hit the hardest whenever there are changes to routine and support. The Air Force is taking steps to mitigate these challenges and prevent delays as a result of reduced medical services.
“We will continue to take care of our EFMP families,” said Lt. Col. Lisa Hoyt, Air Force Programs for Families with Special Needs program manager. “We have been coordinating closely with the Air Force Personnel Center assignments team to make sure we identify families who still need medical clearance and make sure they are able to safely transition to their new assignment when travel restrictions are lifted.”
While many EFMP offices are taking precautions to slow down the spread of COVID-19 by teleworking, they are accessible and can assist with enrollments, navigating the virtual travel screening process, and are available for phone interviews.
“The Air Force asks a lot of its Airmen and their families, so it is important they have the necessary support and resources, especially family members with special needs,” said Hoyt. “Caring for a family member with special needs requires patience, resilience and sacrifice, and we will do our best to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on our families.”
Air Force EFMP families rely on the critical services this program provides. The EFMP works to ensure families can access the necessary medical care, educational resources and support in their new assignment. Any changes to care is challenging and the Air Force is taking measures to make sure EFMP families are taken care of during this difficult time.