I got some “great” advice when we first entered the Army- Dont register for EFMP. <— that was sarcasm, did you see that? Because signing up for EFMP is the real great advice. But your probably asking what the heck is EFMP.
According to Military One Source–
“What is the Exceptional Family Member Program?
The EFMP supports military families with special medical and educational needs. The program has three components:
- Identification and enrollment of a family member with special medical or educational needs
- Assignment coordination to determine the availability of services at the projected duty station
- Family support to help families identify and access programs and service”
EFMP is a confidential program. It is on a need to know basis. Basically it’s main purpose is to assist with assignment purposes only. Enrolling in EFMP will not increase or decrease your chances at unaccompanied or accompanied tours or deployments.
In order to enroll in EFMP here are some helpful forms:
Ok, now that we got the basics out of the way, lets talk about some of the myths; including the reason behind why I was told to never go on EFMP.
Myth 1: Your husband will never be promoted
This is the reason I was told as a brand spanking new Army wife to never enroll a family member in EFMP. I was told the reasoning was because if we enrolled in EFMP, it will show the solider has to much going on in his personal life to be able to handle the tasks and job in the Army.
Myth 2: It limits your duty station; in so facto, limits promotions
This is one reason you need to enroll in EFMP if you qualify. By enrolling in EFMP you will be ensured that you are only PCSed to locations that can handle your medical needs. Every base has a radius of medical care doctors, therapists, and the like have to be within. Example: While stationed at Fort Rucker, AL, we were told upon our overseas EFMP screening that Fort Rucker’s radius for medical care is 40 miles. They explained that since care for our son was over the 40 mile radius, as dependents we can not be stationed at Fort Rucker again. However, Hubs can still go to Fort Rucker for schooling, classes and presumably be stationed there. As dependents we would have to find alternative lodging. So I was shocked when we got orders to Hawaii. I underestimated the medical system here. “Tripler Army Medical Center is the only federal tertiary care hospital in the Pacific Basin”, per TAMC’s website.
Myth 3: EFMP is only for the severely disabled
Um, no. All three of my children are on EFMP. They walk, talk, eat and poop just the same as you and me (well, mostly). Enrolling them on EFMP was to ensure that when we did PCS from Hawaii, we would move to a place that meet all their needs for medical and therapies. That, however, does not mean medical and therapies will be open when arriving to our new duty station. I know for certain there are wait lists at specific bases for ABA and respite.
Myth 4: Being on EFMP puts you first on the priority list for housing
Oh, how I wish I knew about how that worked when we moved here (and lived in a hotel for 59 days). Enrolling in EFMP only means there are needs that need to be meet. And as you know, everyone has different needs; not everyone needs are the same. For example, I have three kids with three different reason for enrollment on EFMP. With that being said, you need to submit your paperwork to housing for them to make the judgement if you qualify for special housing or priority on a wait list. Had I known this we would have been bumped up on the wait list. In Hawaii, they then submit our EFMP paperwork to the medical board who makes the decision whether or not we need priority or special housing. To find out what paperwork is needed, please call your housing office on post. I suggest calling before you PCS so you can make sure you have all needed documents on hand or if possible provide them ahead of your arrival.
Myth 5: Being enrolled in EFMP makes the service member non-deployable
HAHAHAAHA! Sorry for laughing, but I can tell you that my husband just did a 12 month deployment and we have three (two at the time) children on EFMP and one has a life-long, life-threatening condition. A service members status is always deployable.
Just remember the service member is at the needs of the Army. The EFMP is to help the family members enrolled. Giving the service member the reassurance that his/her families health needs will be taken care of at their duty station makes a prepared and ready service member. My husband found solace in knowing that his family was taken care of when he deployed. And he finds that same solace in knowing when we PCS again that we will only go where our children will be taken care of. Even if that means accepting another tour here. He has never been told our EFMP status has effected his work or his promotion status. And most people at his work do not even know that he has three children on EFMP.
EFMP can be a great source of help and assistance. Please don’t be afraid of enrolling, and actually you HAVE to enroll if you are instructed to by your doctor.
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