FORT KNOX, Ky. -- Soldiers with family members enrolled in the Army's Exceptional Family Member Program are responsible for keeping their dependents' medical and/or special educational needs documentation current every three years or when health conditions change.

This applies to active component, Army Reserve, active Guard-Reserve Soldiers and National Guard AGRs serving under Titles 10 and 32 of the U.S. Code. Mobilized and deployed Soldiers are not eligible but the Department of Army wants to extend the program to them.

Profile-update delinquency is the No. 1 challenge with the program, said the Exceptional Family Member Program, or EFMP, coordinators at the U.S. Army Human Resources Command, Enlisted Personnel Management Directorate. Several initiatives have been implemented to address this, and Army Regularion 608-75 entitled Exceptional Family Member Program, addresses it.

The Army started the process in 1979 that sister services have modeled, said EFMP team chief Ron Neal, but the paperwork isn't always uniform. The Defense Department is starting to take a bigger interest and starting to ensure all uniformed personnel use the same forms for consistency.

EFMP has grown from its origins into a large program.

"In fiscal year 2010, EFMP spent more than $50,000 and had more than 70,000 family members enrolled," Neal said. "(For) now, the program is just for Soldiers, except for DoD civilians stationed overseas since their dependents use DoD schools."

When Soldiers take family members on routine medical appointments and physicians diagnose them with eligible conditions, Soldiers are referred to servicing EFMP coordinators for enrollment.

Soldiers who are also enrolled in the Army Married Couples Program must enroll in EFMP when family members qualify, and they can only disenroll when their primary care managers or attending physicians -- military or civilian -- in coordination with regional medical commands -- deem patients no longer need care or are no longer eligible to receive it in the military health care system.

Soldiers enroll family members through local military medical treatment facilities or primary care managers, according to the HRC EFMP web page. EFMP family members' health issues must be resolved while Soldiers are on active duty, Neal said. Also, family members disenroll at age 18 or when doctors decide they are healthy.

At this time, enrollment is only for active-duty Soldiers -- active component and Active Guard-Reserve not deployed or mobilized, Neal said. DoD is broadening categories of EFMP coverage. The intent is to take care of Soldiers' family members; Soldiers' must maintain their family members' statuses.

Soldiers enroll family members through their local military medical treatment facility, according to the HRC EFMP web page. Soldiers and the attending medical or educational specialists complete enrollment forms. The completed forms are forwarded to the regional EFMP team for review and input into the EFMP data base.

When Soldiers enrolled in EFMP are nominated for assignments, HRC career managers coordinate with gaining commands to determine if medical services are available, said EFMP coordinator Gary Walker. When services are unavailable, HRC career managers consider alternative assignments based on priorities and confirmations.

"It's imperative that Soldiers keep their family members' records updated because it hurts the family member when they don't," Walker said. "Ultimately it ends up costing the Army more money because health care costs rise."

The Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management establishes policies and procedures that govern EFMP, and Army Medical Command provides technical and professional guidance.