By John Brooks
Special to GUIDON
The Army’s Exceptional Family Member Program exists to help ensure service members are stationed at locations which are able to support the medical and educational needs of their accompanying family members.
The special needs of family members that warrant enrollment are not necessarily especially uncommon.
“(Service members) think that EFMP is only for kids in wheelchairs,” said Loretta Richter, General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital EFMP coordinator and special needs advisor.
Family members with potentially life-threatening conditions or who are using mental health services can meet requirement eligibility for enrollment in EFMP. Chronic medical or physical conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, thyroid condition, fibro myalgia, asthma and many other serious conditions can also require enrollment.
“Basically, anyone who needs to see a doctor more than once a year for the same thing has to be enrolled in EFMP,” Richter said. “If their doctor hasn’t told them they need to be enrolled in EFMP, a lot of times they don’t know.”
The GLWACH EFMP office gets service members started with the enrollment process for their Family members.
Service members and their families need to know that EFMP is required, important for them and the EFMP staff members are here to help them, Richter said.
“If the Army is going to tell you that you have to move somewhere, the Army’s saying we’re going to consider your family’s needs when we make you move,” Richter said.
“If (a baby with asthma) ends up in Fort Erwin, in the middle of the desert, where there is not 24-hour emergency care, they might have to fly that baby out every time he starts wheezing,” said Richter.
“What the Army doesn’t like is when (Family members) get stationed somewhere where they can’t get medical care. The Army has to turn around and do a compassionate reassignment out of there,” Richter said.
“Come see us first. If they go see a doctor first, the doctor is going to say they don’t have the paperwork he needs (and) a long enough appointment to do this,” said Richter. “Start here so we can get them all of those things so that when they go to the doctor they have everything they need.”
Service members should keep their family members’ medical and education records current, to help make it faster and easier to check EFMP off of their out-processing checklist, Richter said.
Active duty Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Active Guard Reserve service members are all required to have their family members screened by EFMP staff. Family members who meet special needs criteria, according to AR 608-75, must be enrolled.
The GLWACH EFMP office is located in the GLWACH Immunizations Clinic and can be reached by phone at 573.596.0049/0212.
For more information about EFMP, visit http://efmp.amedd.army.mil.
(Editor’s note: Brooks is the marketing specialist at General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital.)