SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii (May 31, 2013) -- Staff Sgt. "Kilroy" reflected on when he learned the importance of registering his family with the Exceptional Family Member Program, or EFMP.

"I had gotten married just before I was supposed to PCS (to make a permanent change of station move) to Fort Polk. I was trying to get my orders amended to include my new wife and her son, Charlie, and I didn't think it was necessary to disclose Charlie's medical condition or include his medical documents," "Kilroy" explained.

"Not long after we arrived at Fort Polk, Charlie became really sick and had to be hospitalized. In the end, not following all the right steps for command sponsorship cost me thousands of dollars, a counseling statement and almost the health of my family," he said.

The EFMP at Army Community Service, or ACS, part of the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation at U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, is working to get the message out about the importance of registering family members with EFMP.

The Department of Defense requires that all service members enroll in the program when they have a family member with a medical, emotional, developmental or intellectual disorder requiring specialized services so that their needs can be considered during the personnel assignment process.

"Kilroy" was surprised when the local hospital at Fort Polk could not support Charlie's medical needs. Charlie was air evacuated 400 miles away to a medical facility that could provide the necessary services.

"It's unfortunate when a medical crisis like Charlie's takes place," said Ophelia Isreal, local EFMP systems navigator. "A medical crisis like this can cause a great deal of stress within the home, both emotionally and financially, and can often be very difficult for a family to overcome."

"Although this was a difficult time for the staff sergeant's family," said Leonard Webster, EFMP coordinator, "we hope other Soldiers and spouses can learn from his example and understand the purpose of EFMP enrollment. The process is in place to support the medical and special needs of the Soldier's family so that he or she can be mission ready.

"What can be more important than the safety of our loved ones?" Webster asked.

The EFMP is comprised of three Army agencies that work in partnership to complement services provided to Soldiers and their families. The first is the Regional Medical Center, which identifies the medical or special need of the family member and initiates the EFMP enrollment with the service member.

The second agency is the Human Resource Command, or HRC, which queries Regional Medical centers in consideration of a potential duty station for a service member and his or her family enrolled in EFMP.

Webster reminds service members "EFMP information is not maintained in local or DA (Department of the Army) level files that are viewed by selection boards or assignment managers. They are only used to ensure medical services are obtainable prior to changing duty stations," she said. "The EFMP program is designed to be an assignment consideration, and not an assignment limitation."

The final component is ACS's EFMP office. It assists Soldiers and their families at the local installation by connecting them to resources and providing them support.

Soldiers seeking command sponsorship should always begin by contacting their unit S1 or the Family Travel Office at the Soldier Support Center for guidance. For community support or other resources, Soldiers and their families should contact the EFMP office at their local ACS.

"I wish I had contacted my EFMP office instead of trying to take a shortcut," said a lamenting "Kilroy." "It would have saved us a lot of money, and my family the stress from worrying about Charlie's health."

(Editor's note: Webster, an EFMP coordinator at ACS, contributed to this article. "Kilroy" is a presumed name to protect the Soldier's identity.)

Page last updated Tue June 4th, 2013 at 17:46