When the Defense Department established the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), it was for a few very practical reasons. They wanted to make sure military families had access to the services they need. And they wanted to make sure the military wasn’t paying through the nose to relocate a family or send them to faraway medical appointments because the base they were sent to a place that couldn’t handle them.
Those seem like pretty reasonable goals. But the reality is always, always more complicated than theory. And so, for some, the EFMP system has done exactly what it is supposed to do. And for others, it has created a logistics nightmare.
I hear from both kinds of families. One family I spoke with joined the military specifically because they knew EFMP would make sure their special needs kid got the help she needs. They’ve had access to a great EFMP office in the Pacific Northwest and have become very involved in the community. But at the same time, another family with only a few duty station options thanks to the Airman’s specialty has watched their career prospects crumble as one EFMP paperwork fiasco after another and a newly discovered peanut allergy has derailed PCS plans.
Meanwhile the DoD, tasked six years ago with streamlining the EFMP process between all services, is fighting an upstream battle. They have at least another three to five years to go, they told me before EFMP families can move without headaches between joint bases.
If you’re a potential EFMP family with minor needs, you may be tempted to simply not enroll in EFMP. But if your chain of command was to discover that you skipped it on purpose, the service member could be subject to discipline under UCMJ for knowingly providing false information
Keep Up with the Ins and Outs of Military Life
For the latest military news and tips on military family benefits and more, subscribe to Military.com and have the information you need delivered directly to your inbox.