DOD site serves special needs

The Defense Department launched a Web site Wednesday to serve military familieswith special educational or medical needs.

The new site, Special Needs Network, providesinformation such as whether a duty post can accommodate a handicapped familymember. Topic areas include assignment coordination, federal and state programs,health and education, relocation and community support.

It also includes access to a confidential Members Network where familiesand service providers can exchange information.

"The Members' Network will allow people to raise issues with otherswho might have the kind of information we may never have," Rebecca Posante,a program analyst at the Pentagon's office of educational opportunity, saidin an American Forces Press Service article. She said, for example, familieswho need a dentist for an autistic child or who are looking for a localadvocacy group for a child with Down syndrome might find other parents onlinewith similar needs and helpful information.

In addition, users can use the Web site to ask others to act as a tourguide when they relocate. The network also will automatically send interestedmembers news about specific issues, and a section on state and federal programswill detail the requirements for such programs as Supplemental SecurityIncome, food stamps and Women, Infants and Children.

Posante started the site to provide access to information and resources.Because military families, especially those overseas, often have troubledownloading material online, she keeps the site simple and easy to use —no elaborate graphics or streaming video.

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