(Photo Credit: Graphic by David Agan) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The Department of Defense Office of Special Needs and Military OneSource digital tool, EFMP & Me, guides military families with special needs to the specific information and resources they need.

EFMP & Me conveniently connects families anytime and anywhere with tools and information about the Exceptional Family Member Program, according to Amanda Guettler, Fort Rucker Army Community Service EFMP coordinator.

Using the tool, families can download forms, learn about support services, how to prepare for a move, respond to changes in education or medical needs, and adjust to new life situations, she said.

“You don’t have to have an account to use EFMP & Me, but having one does help if you want to save your searches and make checklists,” Guettler said, adding that the tool provides phone numbers down to the local level to help Soldiers and families get the information they need to take advantage of all that EFMP has to offer.

“The EFMP process can be a bit confusing because we’re separated – there’s the ACS side of the house, which is me, and then the medical component of the program through Lyster Army Health Clinic,” she said. “Many people don’t realize we’re two separate entities. All enrollments and updates for enrollment, disenrollment and overseas screenings go through Lyster.

“Many people can also struggle with how to enroll in EFMP, what forms they need to fill out, if they can see a civilian doctor to get the forms done – this application through Military One Source really helps to clear up a lot of that confusion,” Guettler added. “EFMP & Me has the forms they need and provides them the local phone numbers – it kind of walks them through the steps they need to take.”

EFMP exists to help military families with special needs, whether medical or educational, she said, adding that there are two main functions of EFMP.

“One is to coordinate assignments. If a Soldier with a family member with an EFMP-documented special need gets an assignment, that special need is considered during the assignment process,” Guettler said. “If there is a dependent who has asthma and needs certain therapies, or a child with autism – a very common diagnosis in EFMP – they make sure that the resources are available at the gaining installation before they make an assignment.

“The second is for EFMP to provide family support services. This puts the family in touch with local resources such as housing, schools, medical services, etc.” she said. “We’re here to help them navigate those channels.

“A lot of times people think EFMP is only for children or dependents with medical special needs, but we have a lot of children enrolled educational needs,” she said. “We see parents who are struggling with a school system off post to get the learning resources their children need, and through this tool on Military OneSource, they can find out what their education rights are and how to advocate for themselves.”

She added that because the medical part of the program is so widely used by the people who need it, many times the ACS Family Support side of the program is overlooked.

“We are here to advocate for them, or if they need special equipment we can get them in touch with financial readiness or Army Emergency Relief for access to loans and grants. We also offer respite care, assistance with Individual Education Plans, activities and support groups,” Guettler said. “Our goal is to ensure military family members with special needs get the help they need to thrive in Army life.”

EFMP & Me is one part of a broad system of support for military families with special needs. That support starts with EFMP Family Support on installations and includes the Military OneSource network, which provides 24/7 support to service members and families anywhere in the world. Click here to access the EFMP & Me tool. Contact Military OneSource EFMP Resources, Options and Consultations for free, around-the-clock support, tools, assistance and more. Call 800-342-9647 or live chat with a consultant.