By Kerstin Lopez (Fort Carson)August 4, 2011
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Army Families come in all shapes and sizes and may include a member with special needs, and there is a program dedicated to those individuals.
The Exceptional Family Member Program is a mandatory enrollment program that works with other military and civilian agencies to provide comprehensive and coordinated medical, educational, housing, community support and personnel services to Families with special needs, said Susan Moyer, Fort Carson EFMP manager.
The program is unique in that it assists personnel offices by identifying assignments that ensure needed services are available at the next duty station.
“EFMP is an assignment coordination program,” Moyer said.
An exceptional Family member can be either an adult or a child who requires medical services for a chronic condition; receives ongoing services from a specialist; has mental health concerns, social problems or psychological needs; receives education services provided on an Individualized Education Program or a Family member receiving services provided on an Individualized Family Service Plan.
Established in the early 1980s, the program currently has more than 70,000 Family members enrolled Armywide.
The Army wants to be sure that an exceptional Family member does not travel to a remote location within the U.S. or a location overseas that does not offer the required medical services, said Sharon Fields, Installation Management Command EFMP manager.
“The primary purpose of the EFMP is to ensure that the medical and/or educational needs of Family members are considered in the assignment coordination process,” Fields said.
Moyer said the sponsor is responsible for enrolling a Family member and updating the enrollment at least every three years or when changes in diagnosis, medication or condition occur. Keeping the information current and updated is the key to making the program work to the best of its ability for the Soldier and Family, she said.
“There is a regulatory requirement that Soldiers update their enrollment a minimum of every three years. We are finding Soldiers who have gone 10 years and haven’t done anything, which means the program can’t work optimally for that Soldier and his Family,” Moyer said.
The important thing to note is that EFMP enrollment does not adversely affect a Soldier’s career.
“It doesn’t come into play for anything except when it’s time for that Soldier to PCS (relocate),” Moyer said.
“Our goal is to keep the Family together " the Soldier can complete his or her mission and Family members get the services they need.
“It ties directly into readiness because you know you are stationed in a location where your Family member’s needs are going to be met. Then the Soldier can actually focus their attention on their mission without having to worry so much about their Family members,” Moyer said.