By Mr. Kevin Stabinsky (IMCOM)July 1, 2010
ATLANTA -- The Army knows Soldiers accomplish the mission when their Family is taken care of. Even if a Family member has some disability, be it physical, emotional, developmental or intellectual, the Army has committed itself to providing the best care possible.
One way the Army accomplishes this for these exceptional family members is through the Exceptional Family Member Program, an Army-wide program that helps provide the special care needed for exceptional Family members, said Erma Warren, Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem EFMP coordinator.
"If a Soldier is enrolled in EFMP, the Army reviews the special requirements of the Family member and confirms the availability of special medical or educational resources, and of any required services at the next duty station prior to orders being released," Warren said.
This allows Families to have the comfort of knowing that no matter where they go, they will be sent to an area that will be able to meet the needs of the exceptional Family member.
"Families with members requiring special educational and medical services often have to rebuild a complex system of providers and services to support the health and development of their Family members," said Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, commanding general, Installation Management Command. "Families can put an incredible amount of time and effort into creating a network that enables their Family members to flourish, and then, when it comes time to relocate, they have to start again. The Army does not intend for these Families to go it alone."
To ensure care is properly given, EFMP is a mandatory program for all Soldiers with an exceptional Family member, Warren said.
"The Soldier should contact their nearest medical treatment facility for enrollment or to update current EFMP status," she said, adding screenings consist of medical record reviews for all Family members.
Even if enrolled, it is important for Soldiers to keep their Family members status current, as Warren said exceptional Family member conditions change at least every three years.
Currently, 840 exceptional Family members are enrolled in the program on Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem, Warren said. Besides helping Familes get the care needed for their Family member, the program also provides for the providers through the respite care program, Warren said.
The respite care program provides a temporary rest period for Family members responsible for regular care of persons with disabilities.
"This program is important because our military Families are important," Warren said. "To ensure our troops are completing the mission, we have to make sure that services are provided to assist our military Families."
Lynch echoed similar sentiments.
"The EFMP is one way we can keep some of the most important promises articulated in the Army Family Covenant: providing access to high-quality medical care," Lynch said.
Because of its importance, Warren said the program will remain until both Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem close, allowing her to keep her job which she describes as fulfilling.
"I get personal fulfillment from providing a service that I know will alleviate some of the stress that comes from a Soldier's concern for the well being of their Family members."