Have you heard of EFMP? EFMP stands for the Exceptional Family Member Program. This program is an enrollment program that works with different agencies, both military and civilian, to make sure that military families with special needs can receive the support they need at their duty stations. EFMP is the reason you may or may not be able to be stationed in certain locations.
Active duty service members are required to register for EFMP as well as making sure their status stays updated. This is to make sure family members are able to receive the right housing, education, medical care, and personnel services that they need.
Being stationed in a place where you couldn’t receive much-needed therapy can be a problem. While this does sometimes complicate issues when it comes to where a service member needs to go for their career vs where a family can go to get services, EFMP can be a good thing to make sure family members get exactly what they need.
Up until recently, each service branch had its own regulations and guidelines when it comes to EFMP. However, the DoD has made some changes to standardize the EFMP program. This is much needed and should have been done a long time ago.
Who qualifies for EFMP?
Military families who have any emotional, developmental, physical, or intellectual needs that require any special treatments, therapies, education, counseling, or training qualify and need to sign up for EFMP. If you are on OCONUS orders, you will need to go through EFMP screaming. My son and I had to do this before we did a PCS to Germany. At the time we didn’t have any diagnosed special needs and weren’t aware of any, so our doctor filled out a form saying so.
What will the changes in EFMP look like?
According to Gilbert R. Cisneros Jr., Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, “Service members can’t focus on the mission when they have concerns about a family member’s health or education needs. Enrollment in EFMP provides families access to critical services and support, no matter their service branch or location. We will continue our work to enhance EFMP to better serve our military families.”
The DoD Office of Special Needs is enhancing the Exceptional Family Member Program to help improve the experiences of military families in every branch in the following ways:
- Medical services will coordinate the documentation of the special needs and the family’s enrollment in the EFMP. Identification and enrollment will be standardized.
- Each branch will use the same criteria when it comes to the assignment process. You will also be told what the reason is if you are declined a location.
- Family members will be able to connect with resources that can help. EFMP Family Support providers will help with this.
- There will be guidance and transparency when it comes to disenrollment. The disenrollment process will be standardized.
- There will be revisions when it comes to respite care, such as a consistent number of hours across the services and covering adult dependents who are eligible for respite care.
You can read more about this on the DoD Press Release page.
Hopefully, these changes will help improve things for EFMP families. Not being able to find the care that you need when you or a family have special needs can be frustrating, especially when trying to balance that with the military lifestyle.