Understanding the Exceptional Family Member Program
Managing the care and services for a family member with special needs is more manageable with the right support. The goal of the Exceptional Family Member Program is to help your military family with special needs thrive in military life. EFMP is more than just one program or connection point. It’s the work of three components: identification and enrollment, assignment coordination and family support. The resources, tools and services that are available to support your journey are organized as part of the EFMP Resources, Options and Consultations or EFMP ROC.
If your spouse, child or other dependent family member is in need of ongoing medical or educational services, your first step is to enroll them in the Exceptional Family Member Program. Enrollment is mandatory but once enrolled, you will have access to the services, support and information you need to become your family’s best advocate.
Each branch of service has its own mission and history with EFMP. However, there has been a focus over the past several years on creating more standardization across services to make it easier for families to find what they need, when they need it. We can minimize misperceptions and increase satisfaction by helping families understand how the system works and what to expect.
What is EFMP?
The EFMP is a Department of Defense program implemented by all service branches. The EFMP has three components all working together.
- Identification and Enrollment is the point of entry into the EFMP. Enrollment in the EFMP is mandatory for active-duty military members who meet enrollment criteria. When a family member is identified with special medical or educational needs, those needs are documented through enrollment. Members of the National Guard or reserve may enroll according to service-specific guidance.
- Assignment Coordination ensures the family’s special needs are considered during the assignment process. The EFMP makes every effort to help keep families together and support the service member’s career. The final decision for duty station selection will always be determined based on mission need.
- Family Support enables the family to become its own best advocate by helping them identify and connect with resources, expert consultations, education and community support. EFMP Family Support provides in person support as well as virtual self-service support through online information and resources available on Military OneSource and through Military OneSource EFMP ROC specialty consultations.
Ways EFMP can help your service member’s family
Each installation has an EFMP Family Support office staffed with providers who can help your service member and their family in the following ways:
- Find and tap into community resources, services and programs that will meet their needs.
- Provide information and referrals and help your service member’s family develop a family services plan.
- Offer training and other support to help your service member’s family be their own best advocate.
- Provide a warm hand-off to EFMP Family Support at the next installation when your service member PCSs.
Tools and resources for families with special needs
EFMP and offers a number of tools and resources to support military families with special needs. Your service member and their family can tap into these to stay in the know and connect with the services they need.
- EFMP resources, options and consultations provides enhanced support by phone or video. Special needs consultants can connect your service member and their family with experts in education, the military health care system and TRICARE, special needs financial planning, and more.
- EFMP & Me is an online tool that allows your service member and their family to navigate services for military families with special needs, create customized checklists and stay organized.
- The Exceptional Advocate is a quarterly e-newsletter that focuses on updates and information from the Exceptional Family Member Program.
- The EFMP & Me podcast series covers all things EFMP and other topics of interest to military families with special needs, like caregiving, legal and long-term financial planning, PCSing with a family member with special needs and more.
Everything is easier when you have a network of support. EFMP can help your service member pull together the information, services and resources that will allow their family to thrive.