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Program supports exceptional families and their needs

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- The Department of Defense celebrates the Month of the Military Child in April. In recognition of our military families, the 779th Medical Group (779 MDG), Population Health Department would like to highlight the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) and the benefits it provides for military members and their families.

The EFMP is responsible, per DoD instructions, to collect information regarding any special health and education requirements of military family members. When it's time for families to relocate, EFMP helps to ensure there are adequate medical and educational resources available when families arrive at their new location. Documentation regarding the medical and educational needs of family members is transferred digitally to the receiving base. The gaining medical unit will approve or deny the request for transfer based on the availability of services.

By DoD criteria, family members are considered exceptional if they have a chronic disease, require specialty care, have a 5 year history of a mental health disorder, require special medical equipment or modified housing, have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) or have asthma requiring daily steroids or bronchodilators.

If you have an exceptional family member, enrollment in EFMP is mandatory. The sponsor for the family is Q-coded. This code is simply a tool to notify the Military Personnel Flight that family members need to be screened by the EFMP office before orders are issued.

"Military members sometimes express concern that enrolling in the EFMP will prevent them from getting an overseas assignment or from getting promoted. A Q code will not prevent active duty member from getting an overseas assignment or hurt their career. As long as you are Worldwide Eligible, you can still receive overseas assignments. Promotion Boards do not have access to EFMP enrollment," said Master Sgt. Courtney Lillard, Family Member Relocation Clearance Coordinator, 779 MDG.

Another concern for some individuals is that it will take a long time to complete the enrollment paperwork. While there is a lot of required paperwork, the EFMP staff will walk you through the process. It's not as daunting as it appears.

There are numerous benefits of enrolling in EFMP. Enrollees may use TRICARE's Extended Care Health Option (ECHO), which provides additional services and financial assistance for beneficiaries with special needs. Enrollees also have access to EFMP related classes through the Airmen and Family Readiness Center. USAF EFMP Respite Care is available for Air Force families who have children diagnosed with moderate or severe special needs. For more information contact the Airman and Family Readiness Center or call 1 (800) 424-2246 to apply.

The Exceptional Family Member Program is a mandatory program, as written in AFI 40-701, Special Needs Identification and Assignments and AFI 36-2110, Air Force Assignments and  DoDI 1315.19, Authorizing Special Needs Family Members to Travel Overseas at Government Expense. For more information or to speak with an EFMP staff member, call Ms. Suzanne Campos at (240) 857-8521 or MSgt Courtney Lillard at (240) 857-8921.

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