Installation Management Command hosted the Exceptional Family Member Program Manager’s Training Conference, Aug. 21-25, at Hunter Army Airfield. EFMP managers from around the world attended the conference, where they received training to enhance EFMP services on every installation in support of Soldiers, their families and Army readiness.
According to the EFMP website, “The EFMP is a mandatory enrollment program that assists active-duty military Families who have a Family member that has been identified as having special medical and/or educational needs… The EFMP’s goal is to assist in mission readiness by providing comprehensive care and services to Army Families with special needs dependents.”
Understanding the importance of these services to Families, the training conference was structured to update managers on program changes and encourage crosspollination of best practices.
“This training ensures our EFMP managers have all the current information to do their job, which is to provide support to Soldiers who are enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program and who have family members who are physically, mentally, emotionally, or intellectually challenged, who require ongoing medical or special education,” said Sharon Swisher, Installation Management Command EFMP manager.
This was the first enterprise-wide training conference held in person since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been a few years since we've all gotten together and the purpose of this training is to make sure that everyone is abreast of new changes,” said Jenny Walker, EFMP manager at Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield. “We've got people in here that are going on almost 30 years of doing EFMP and their experience is critical to the team.”
According to Walker, EFMP managers are essential as there are three separate pillars to the program that must work in unison. These being human resources, medical and family support.
“You have to be passionate about what you're doing,” Walker said. “Having EFMs (exceptional family members) myself, I understand what these families are going through and how stressful it can all be. You need somebody in your corner that cares and understands the systems of care in place. That’s what we’re here for.”
The 40 hours of training received by EFMP managers covered everything from respite care and special education to best practices and Army regulations. Aside from training and Soldier support, Swisher says that one of her other priorities for the program is simply awareness.
“EFMP Families should know that the ACS family support is here for you,” Swisher said.