FORT SILL, Okla.--The Exceptional Family Member Program helps a Soldier do his or her job knowing that any special needs their dependent may have is being taken care of. Instead of worrying about getting the proper treatment or support EFMP does some of the heavy lifting for them. Whether it be a medical condition like diabetes, psychological condition like depression or an educational hurdle like autism the Soldier can seek help and the program ensures they will get it. The catch is the Soldier has to first enroll his or her dependent in the program and second make sure their status is up to date.

Many Soldiers who are already signed up don't realize the EFMP period of enrollment is three years. After that, they either need to update the status of their dependent's condition or they need to officially disenroll them.

Right now about 30 percent of Soldiers on post have an expired enrollment status and may not even realize it. That number jumps to a staggering 20,000 Soldiers Armywide.

"The hardest thing to hear is that a family member isn't getting what they need because if the Soldier doesn't update that enrollment every three years, the service is going off what their condition was three years ago and it doesn't necessarily reflect what the current needs are," said Christine Carruthers, EFMP manager.

EFMP enrollment also plays a big role in where the Soldier will get stationed next to ensure they will still be able to get the care their dependent requires.

"If they have a family member in the program then the Army will kind of match it to a matrix they have. They look at the condition and then what duty stations have openings for the Soldier and the services to meet that particular needs of the dependent," said Carruthers.

"I get queries all the time. Can this Soldier come to Fort Sill' I get a print out of their summary report and then I say OK this person needs, for example, a developmental pediatrician or a cardiologist -- do I have them in my 100-mile radius'" said Irene Reid, EFMP special needs adviser.

Reid makes sure Soldiers coming to Fort Sill have the services they need within a reasonable driving distance so it doesn't wear more on the Soldier and family driving back and forth for treatment. The frequency of the treatment also determines where the Soldier can be stationed.
"If they go to New York and they need to see a provider monthly then they're 80 miles away and that's not a good fit," said Reid.

Reynolds Army Community Hospital and Army Community Service partner up to make sure the family member gets not only the medical support but support in the community.

"We take care of, once they're here what do they need' We have respite care. We have support groups and information on different services off post. And also we help with advocacy and referral, so if they need a service we can refer them if they're not getting the services that they need then we can advocate on their behalf. So we're really there to connect them with what they need once they're in the program," said Carruthers.

Soldiers should enroll family members in EFMP who have:
-- Chronic medical/physical condition which requires specialty care (above what a PCM can provide).
-- Condition requiring intensive follow-up support.
-- Individual Education Program or IEP.
-- Any level of mental health service for a chronic condition.
-- Potential life threatening medical condition.
Some qualifying conditions include asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, sickle cell disease, serious food allergies causing anaphylaxis, early intervention or special education services, autism, down syndrome, bipolar disorder or depression.
To enroll in the medical EFMP the Soldier must:
-- Complete demographic information on DD Form 2792,
-- Make an appointment with their primary care manager,
-- Primary care managers will complete the medical portion of the DD Form 2792,
-- Bring the form back to Reid and she will check for completeness and fax it to the Department of the Army for coding.
To enroll in the educational EFMP the Soldier must:
-- Complete demographic information on DD Form 2792-1,
-- A school and/or special education teacher has to complete items 2-6 of DD Form 2792-1,
-- Bring completed forms to Reid. She will check for completeness and fax it to the Department of the Army for coding.

If a Soldier is enrolled in the program, but unsure of their status, they should request a copy of their EFMP summary report from Irene Reid and bring it with them to the appointment with their primary care manager. This will show how long ago they first enrolled and if the condition or conditions listed are current. If it's an educational condition they need to check their exceptional family member educational summary report.