Exceptional Family Member Program provides support to Airmen, families
By Airman Grace Nichols, 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 14, 2016
LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. (AFNS) -- Military families are often asked to leave their homes, schools and friends to go where they are needed. The combination of goodbyes and making moving arrangements, it can be a very stressful time.
Recently, a family of three was asked to do just that. In the middle of an already complicated process this family was faced with the birth of their second child.
“Blake’s birth and diagnosis of Down Syndrome occurred in the middle of my family’s move to Little Rock,” said Special Agent Adam Boccher.
Despite Blake being their second child, the Boccher family suddenly experienced the fear a new parent feels in a whole new light.
The Air Force family at Little Rock Air Force Base assisted the Bocchers and led them on the path to success.
The Exceptional Family Member Program, a program designed to provide support to military family members with special needs, stepped in to help the Bocchers find their way.
“To say our family was on an emotional rollercoaster, going in circles would be an understatement,” Boccher said. “The Rock’s EFMP pulled us out of the cycle of confusion, set us - and more importantly Blake - on a path to success and allowed me to refocus on being a wingman, leader and warrior.”
Through the efforts of the EFMP community, the Boccher family received the support they needed to focus less on logistics and more on loving and caring for Blake.
“When families feel empowered about their needs they are more likely to feel invested and make meaningful decisions which improve their overall well-being,” said Regena Handley, a 19th Medical Group EFMP representative.
Developing and caring for Airmen and their families is one of the goals of both the Air Force and EFMP. The program is multipurpose, working to ensure equal opportunity for family members with special needs.
Boccher’s wife, Brittany Boccher, took advantage of this when she noticed there weren’t any accessible swing sets on base for children with special needs.
“Do you remember enjoying the playground when you were a kid?” Brittany said. “Maybe seeing who could swing the highest? Those opportunities can be lost for a child whose disability keeps them from using a playground.”
With the help of the EFMP community, Brittany coordinated every step of the process.
Brittany reached out to the EFMP with her research, coordinating with Handley for financial and logistical support for a swing with core-support and a seatbelt.
Welcomed by Blake’s joyful giggles, the accessible therapeutic swing was unveiled at the playground near the Family Camp and small base lake, Sept. 9, 2016.
The relentless efforts of the EFMP community allows children with disabilities an opportunity to be shoulder-to-shoulder with their peers, made evident by Blake and his sister, Harper, as they played side-by-side on the swing set.
Little Rock AFB’s EFMP continues to strive toward improving quality of life for 400 Team Little Rock families enrolled in the program.
“The base’s EFMP is growing,” Brittany said. “There is always room for improvement, it takes families participating and having their voices heard for the program to be successful and meet the needs of EFMP families.”
For questions or concerns about qualifying family members or assistance and support programs, contact the child’s Pediatric primary care manager along with the local Exceptional Family Member Program office.