FORT LEE, Va. (April 6, 2017) -- One of the most common questions I get while working in the EFMP office is, "What exactly does the Exceptional Family Member Program do?"

The answer is not easy. EFMP is large with several components that work together to ensure dependents of active duty military personnel with health concerns can access their medical care wherever the military sends them.

The program was created by the U.S. Congress in the 1980s as a tracking system for dependents with health care concerns with the mandate to provide for these medical needs. There are three primary components of EFMP.

The first is the medical division with a mandate to process all enrollments and dis-enrollments into or out of EFMP. This division is further tasked with the medical screening of all active duty dependents for permanent change of station travel in and outside the U.S.

We coordinate care with sending and receiving clearances for family members with health conditions who are arriving or departing Fort Lee.

This process begins with the nominative inquiry -- an action taken by the human resource agent inquiring if the projected receiving command's medical resources can meet the needs of the incoming EFMP-enrolled family member. If the medical needs of the dependent can be met, then the service member is approved for PCS to the command.

If the available medical resources cannot meet the needs, the service member is denied PCS transfer to that command, and the agent selects the next base on the service member's eligibility list. A nominative inquiry is then sent out to the new base.

Globally, less than 4 percent of these inquiries are declined, but it is an important aspect of the EFMP process to ensure family members are not sent to places where they cannot get their necessary medical care.

The second component of EFMP is Army Community Service that provides the special needs/disability support services for Fort Lee. This includes support groups, New Parent Support Program and play groups for children.

ACS EFMP also helps with screenings for the installation child developmental centers and serves as a vital conduit for new families looking to network within the Fort Lee community and surrounding area. It has a school liaison officer who helps navigate local school systems and will serve as a support person when dealing with complications in a child's education.

The third component of EFMP is the garrison that assists with housing requirements, relocation services and travel. It is a tremendous undertaking to track over a million dependents who are associated with active duty service members. It is the goal of the garrison component to make certain assignments and housing needs are equal and fair, as well as timely and safe.

EFMP's golden mandate is to ensure no family member is sent to a location where his or her specific medical needs cannot be met. It is a difficult, daunting and occasionally overwhelming task when confronted with the sheer numbers of people involved and the degree of severe illnesses that are seen within our ranks.

However, we have a strong staff of dedicated professionals with a vast array of training and experiences who have consistently done a remarkable job with this enormous task.

For further information, visit the EFMP office on the second floor of Kenner Army Health Clinic or call (804) 734-9130.