Service members and their families can use Space-Available flights – formally known as Military Airlift Command or MAC flights – to travel around the country and world at little to no cost. Though sometimes unpredictable, military flights are perfect for families with flexible plans and limited travel budgets. With the right planning and documentation, Space-A travel can be the best way to take a trip with your family.


These flights are not commercial, but rather military flights with a mission. That means there are certain restrictions to travel, including:



AMC has a travel page that includes the following important information about Space-A travel. You should review this travel page for up-to-date information, including what type of identification is required for you and your family, baggage allowance for checked and hand carried baggage, and prohibited items.


If Space-A travel isn't right for your plans, take advantage of TSA Precheck to expedite your time at the airport when flying commercial. Use your Department of Defense ID as your known traveler number.

You'll bypass long security lines without removing your shoes or jacket or taking your laptop from your bag. Family members under the age of 12 can pass through expedited screening with you.

– Military One Source


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Military families move quite a bit. The upheaval created by a PCS (permanent change of station) is stressful for most families to navigate, but for families of children with special needs, it can mean an interruption of services that can take months to overcome. As an occupational therapist, when I explain different types of OT available, I find that families are often left in the dark. Parents may think their child is receiving the appropriate therapy because they are getting occupational therapy (OT), but it may be in a setting that is not right for their child. In most situations, a child will have two types of OT available: school-based OT and clinic-based OT. It's important to know the difference.

School-based OT is offered as a result of the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act, mandating that schools offer free and appropriate services to student who qualify for them. Because this type of OT is tied to the school setting, it is required to address concerns affecting a student's academic performance. That usually boils down to reading and writing, but could possibly include sensory and behavioral issues that affect a child's academic participation. Occupational therapists in schools might have caseloads of up to one hundred children or more, sometimes spread out over several schools. Your child may only be receiving 30 minutes of therapy per week, or possibly less, and that therapy might be in a group setting. It's a good idea to ask questions regarding how much therapy your child is receiving, and when, at their IEP meetings.

OT services can also be received in clinic-based therapy. This type of therapy must be prescribed by your child's doctor and you must have a referral from Tricare, if that is the insurance your child has. If your child is participating in outpatient, clinic-based services, you might want to consider whether the clinic is affiliated with a hospital or not. If your child has medically-complicated conditions, a hospital-based clinic may have more therapists with greater experience in specific medical diagnoses. If you would like your child's OT to address sensory and behavioral issues that affect your family, if might be helpful to tour a few clinics in the area before choosing one. Ideally, you are looking for one with a sensory-based therapy area that allows for lots of movement. Small rooms with desks, rooms that appear like school to a child, might not afford them many opportunities to address sensory and behavioral goals. Even if your child is working specifically on fine-motor coordination goals, those goals are often addressed with large motor movements and sensory equipment.

Most important, ask questions of the occupational therapist to whom you are referred. Do they have experience with children like yours? What kind of progress can you expect to see and when? What is their approach and can they explain it in layman's terms, so that you can explain it to your spouse when they aren't able to make your child's appointments? All these factors are just part of the larger picture of decision-making that special needs military parents go through with every PCS. The more quickly questions are answered to your satisfaction, the sooner your child can return to their regular routine and continue their progress.•


THE RIGHT STUFF?: Parents may think their child is receiving the appropriate therapy because they are getting occupational therapy (OT), but it may be in a setting that is not right for their child.


Robin Abbott, MS, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 12 years' experience working with families and children with autism, ADHD, SPD and Down Syndrome. Her practice is a theoretically-based, structured framework of auditory and vestibular activities to promote better sensory integration. She is currently works as a Rehab Liaison in Davenport, IA. She can be reached through her website,