Photo by Jason Bortz, Naval Air Station Pensacola
Having a family member with unique health needs is stressful for anyone, anywhere. The challenges that come with the military lifestyle—frequent moves, deployments, living far from friends and family—add an additional layer of stress for military families with a family member enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP). On Tuesday, June 23, MFAN will release data covering a variety of military family topics, including the Exceptional Family Member Program. As we gear up for that release—which will share several pain points EFMP families experience—we wanted to make sure families who follow MFAN are aware of this new program.
The Department of Defense Office of Special Needs has worked with Military OneSource to create a new tool for EFMP families. Called EFMP & ME , it’s an online tool that creates checklists based on the family’s needs and interests. The checklists contain comprehensive suggestions and links to even more resources.
“The Department of Defense is committed to supporting our families with special needs, and EFMP & Me is an important enhancement to the Exceptional Family Member Program,” said Kim Joiner, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Military Community and Family Policy. “EFMP & Me provides virtual access to EFMP support services for all stages of their military lives, whether they’re just starting out in the program, navigating medical or educational systems, or preparing for retirement from the service.”
Here’s how it works:
From a computer or mobile device, a service member or military family member goes to the EFMP & Me site and begins answering a series of questions about the person in their family who has medical needs and their relationship to that person. Based on the age of the EFMP member and the family’s needs and situation, they are able to opt in to receive checklists that offer information on things like enrolling in EFMP, finding childcare, advocating for education, finding housing, and transitioning out of military service. Each checklist offers further pulldown menus with practical tips, organizational tools, and helpful videos. In all, the tool functions as a coach for families to manage care, education, and other needs for the EFMP member.
Photo By Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez, 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Frequent moves are a fact of life for military families and for EFMP families moving often means not having a medical provider to consistently direct care and recommend services, therapies, and treatments. One of the most difficult aspects of caring for an EFMP loved one is the frustration that comes with not knowing what you don’t know. Families can’t ask for resources if they don’t know the resources exist.
The EFMP & Me tool promises to help families know what they didn’t know before and help them discover the best practices for managing the demands that arise with unique health needs. It’s a step in the right direction and one that should help families find the care they need and learn about existing resources. It won’t alleviate all the stress of medical needs in a military family, but it’s a great place to start.