Life at the 'Lik: Exceptional Family Member Program

Exceptional Family Member Program (DoD Graphic)

Exceptional Family Member Program (DoD Graphic)

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Editor's note: This article is part of a series designed to provide in-depth information to both current and future members of Team Incirlik about topics specific to Incirlik and Turkey. The goal is to assist Airmen and families in making informed decisions about their move to the area and to provide guidance about local policies, procedures and quality of life matters.

For families with a member who requires special medical care, moving to a new location can be made even more difficult with the search for proper medical facilities and specialists. To relieve active duty service members of this stress, the Department of Defense conducts the Exceptional Family Member Program.

The EFMP is a mandatory program that ensures military members with dependants who have exceptional medical needs are assigned to locations that can meet their unique requirements.

Here the 39th Medical Group chief of medical staff examines each incoming assignment coded by the program to ensure the individual case matches the resources and environment of Incirlik AB.

"The question to a gaining base or location, such as here at Incirlik, is, 'do you have the service and resources that the member needs?'" said Col. Phillip Cover, 39th MDG chief of medical staff. "If you have those services and resources, then certainly the member is welcome to come and bring their family, and we'll make sure they are well cared for. The reason we don't have members come is because their needs may exceed what we are capable of providing locally."

Each case is matched up against specialists, equipment and other factors available at on and off-base medical facilities, said Cover. If an exceptional need cannot be supported at Incirlik AB members are generally given the option of taking the tour as an unaccompanied assignment, he said, but proper medical care is the priority.

"If they have something that really requires them to be near a university hospital, a center of excellence or a specialist we don't have, then they need to be assigned to a location in which they can actually receive that special care at a more robust medical center," he said.

While the region around Incirlik AB is not prepared for every exceptional need, Cover said that he maintains a world-wide reach so he can direct service members and their dependants to proper care facilities - before or after they are assigned here.

For Airmen and families at Incirlik AB who have an exceptional family member, the Airman and Family Readiness Center can point them towards resources and contacts to strengthen their understanding of the program.

"One of the major resources, I think, is through Military OneSource," said Jim McDaniel, 39th Force Support Squadron Airman and Family Readiness Center community readiness specialist. "It has a description of everything: The basics of what the EFMP program is at the military and the DoD levels, an overview of it and many more additional resources."

The spread of resources available also includes 39th MDG briefings hosted by the A&FRC, books and contact numbers to resolve specific questions, said Jim. "We just want to exceptionally empower people to represent their exceptional family member."