When a Father Leaves so his Family Can Stay
Ken and Kristie Halander had a tough choice: accept a PCS to Fort Polk and leave their children’s health care providers behind in Washington state; or stay put and face yet another deployment. The couple chose the latter, deciding the mental and physical health of their children — both of whom have special needs — was worth the sacrifice.
Now Ken Halander is in Iraq. It’s his third deployment since joining the Army 18 years ago. His 4-year-old son, who suffers anxiety and has a speech delay, is making progress in both areas, and his 2-year-old daughter is in the care of a pulmonary pediatric specialist because of a respiratory illness. Their mother, Kristie Halander, told a National Public Radio reporter that moving to Fort Polk would have meant losing the care she had cobbled together for her children.
Moving is one of the greatest challenges for military families with special needs. Finding new services, keeping healthcare and educational plans on track, helping kids get used to new doctors, teachers, and caregivers requires a world of time, energy, and patience.
Fortunately, the military offers plenty of support and services for families with special needs. The Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) and Military OneSource will help you navigate the systems that provide the services you need. You can learn what’s available on our Special Needs page. There you’ll find information and resources on moving, early intervention, support for adults with special needs, and more.
When families take advantage of the support and services available from the military and other organizations, PCSing should be a lot easier for people like the Halanders who face difficult choices.