Fort Huachuca's Army Community Services is currently emphasizing the "Exceptional Family Member Program" which provides information and assistance to connecting exceptional family members with military and community support services that meet their needs.

More than 50,000 Army Families have members with special needs. More than 545 of those families are stationed on Fort Huachuca, according to Audrey Peterson-Hosto, the Fort's EFMP Manager.

"These include spouses, children, or dependent parents who require special medical or educational services," she explained. "We define an exceptional family member as one - either child or adult - with any physical, emotional, developmental, or intellectual disorder that requires special treatment, therapy, education, training, or counseling."

"The Exceptional Family Member Program is a mandatory enrollment program for active duty servicemembers."

By Army regulation, all active Army, Army National Guard, active Guard Reserve personnel serving under authority of Title 10, U.S. Code and Title 32, U.S. Code and U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers in the USAR Active Guard Reserve Program are required to enroll in the program. Mobilized or deployed Soldiers are not eligible to enroll though.

Department of the Army civilian employees, while not eligible, must identify dependent children and family members with special needs each time they process for assignment outside the United States where family member travel is authorized at government expense.

Peterson-Hosto said enrolling in EFMP will not adversely affect selection for promotion, schools, or assignment.

"Enrollment simply allows assignment managers at Army personnel agencies to consider the documented medical and special education needs of exceptional family members in the assignment process," said Peterson-Hosto. When possible, Soldiers are assigned to an area where the needs of their exceptional family member can be met.

Special education needs are only considered in assignments outside the United States. Assignments within the U.S. and Trust Territories are not based on the educational needs of children because local school systems must obey laws regarding special education provision.

ACS can help Soldiers with information and referral, advocacy, support groups, respite care and relocation services.

If required to enroll, a Soldier should contact the nearest Army medical treatment facility EFMP point of contact to begin assessment and obtain enrollment forms.

Additionally, forms must be updated every three years. Immediate update is required if there is an additional or changed diagnosis, a divorce or marriage, or the Family member no longer has an enrollable condition. Update of expired EFMP enrollment isn't automatic. Servicemembers must contact the EFMP special needs advisor at Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center, 533-9035, schedule an update appointment, she explained.