ARLINGTON, Va. – The U.S. Army's Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Installations (G-9) has expanded the Exceptional Family Member Program Central Office to include a special education specialist and a health benefits specialist as part of ongoing efforts to improve the Army’s support to the EFMP.
“The Army is committed to taking care of people,” said Lt. Gen. Kevin Vereen, the DCS of G-9. “This means providing the best services we can to support our Army families. Each Army family is unique, and this is why we are expanding our EFMP Central Office – so that we can better support our EFMP families and their specific circumstances.”
G-9’s senior enlisted advisor, Sgt. Maj. Michael Perry, said improving the quality of life of Soldiers and their families is the Army’s and G-9’s top priority.
“We are listening and working to take necessary steps that continue to improve the Army EFMP to best serve our Army community,” Perry said. “There is more work to be done, but we are excited to share this first step with the force.”
Ms. Marcine Best, the new special education specialist, will help the Army’s EFMP families navigate special education and 504 plan processes. She brings with her more than 20 years of experience as a special education teacher, as well as 30 years working with the military. She has a bachelor’s degree in sociology-social work and a master’s in special education.
“As an Army veteran and Department of Defense civilian and teacher, my mission is to help families add tools to their toolbox so they can become an active, effective advocate in their children’s education,” Best said. “We will be sharing these resources, tips and other tools on social media and other platforms to help parents stay informed and actively engaged in their children’s education."
Ms. Jessica Slaughter, the new health benefits specialist, previously served as the beneficiary counseling and assistance coordinator, as well as the chief experience officer, in a military treatment facility. She has 24 years of experience as a healthcare services manager and an Air Force service member. In her new role, she will be responsible for addressing complex health benefit concerns not easily addressed by local medical advisors, an effort anticipated to greatly enhance the experience of EFMP families.
“My combined military and civilian experience has given me training, perspective and passion for the work of the EFMP Central Office,” Slaughter said.
Paul Grossman, EFMP central office branch chief, said EFMP support agencies at the installation level are well postured to assist families, but when a support agency or family member needs additional assistance to find the right resources, the G-9 EFMP Central Office Branch team members are there to help.
“We are deliberately building out the EFMP Central Office with a team of experts from all areas that EFMP touches,” Grossman said.
Grossman noted that families who encounter barriers in their children’s education or family member’s health care should first leverage their local Army Community Service’s System Navigators or military treatment facility professionals, but the G-9 team will offer additional support when needed.
When not working special cases, the EFMP Central Office will be focused on advocacy for EFMP families at the HQDA and Office of the Secretary of Defense level. As part of this effort, the G-9’s EFMP Central Office recently updated the EFMP website, now known as Enterprise-EFMP (E-EFMP). EFMP families can access this website and find more information on EFMP at https://efmp.army.mil.
Soldiers and families with EFMP concerns that have not been resolved at the local level are encouraged to contact the EFMP Central Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. All correspondence must include the military treatment facilities and military personnel division location.
Meanwhile, G-9 will continue looking for ways to improve the quality of life of Soldiers and families wherever they train, work and live.
“There is a reason that taking care of people is the Army’s number-one priority,” Vereen said. “People are central to all that the Army does. We recruit Soldiers, but we retain Army families.”