Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Defense Department Provides Exceptional Service to Exceptional Families

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Defense Department Provides Exceptional Service to Exceptional Families

Article excerpt

The Department of Defense and the military services provide a full continuum of support designed to meet the needs of military families with special needs. This article focuses on DoD initiatives, such as the Exceptional Family Member Program, and beneficial DoD Web sites and tools that help families navigate the maze of services as they move from state to state and overseas.

Exceptional Family Member Program--The EFMP is intended to support military families with special needs. Enrollment in the EFMP is mandatory for all service members who have a family member with special needs.

Exceptional Family Member Program enrollment provides the military services with information that allows them to identify family members with special medical and/or educational needs, document their needs, and consider them when approving family travel to overseas locations.

"If the service member does not enroll, then there can be no consideration for their family member's need, and they risk being assigned to a location where the necessary educational or medical services may not exist," said Dr. Rebecca Posante, director of the Office of Communications for Military Community and Family Policy.

The military services also provide family support to families with special needs at the military family service centers. Support can range from assistance with enrollment, to relocation information, to identifying contacts for various programs and resources.

Visit MilitaryHOMEFRONT at http://www.militaryhomefront.dod.mil/efm to learn more about the program.

EFMP Awareness Campaign Under Way

In April 2009, the DoD established a DoD/Joint Services Special Needs Family Support Working Group. The group's mission is to identify the issues military families with special needs are facing, the support systems available to them, and support that is needed but not available. The working group's main task is to develop a sustainable five-year awareness campaign aimed at raising awareness of the programs and services available to families with special needs, developing what is not available, and encouraging enrollment in the EFMP.

One of the group's first missions was to establish an identity for the program that speaks to the value and benefit of enrolling in the EFMP, to jointly brand the program and to help draw attention to the key message: We Know the System. We Can Help.

Military installations are encouraged to use the logo and posters to communicate the benefits of enrolling the EFMP to service members and their families.

To download the new logo, visit DoD's Web site, MilitaryHOMEFRONT at http://www.militaryhomefront.dod.mil/service/efmp/promotionalmaterials.

OTHER RESOURCES:

MilitaryHOMEFRONT--Special Needs/EFMP MilitaryHOMEFRONT (http://www.militaryhomefront.dod.mil) is a DoD quality of life Web site that has comprehensive information specifically for military families with special needs. MilitaryHOMEFRONT also provides special needs information relatable to the military population, state-specific resources, as well as hundreds of disability resources for the military special needs community.

MilitaryINSTALLATIONS for Military Families with Special Needs

Military INSTALLATIONS is a directory of programs and services on military installations worldwide, and includes a listing of all of the EFMP family support personnel and the EFMP enrollment points of contact. By entering the name of an installation, users can obtain addresses and phone numbers, mapping data and driving directions.

Plan My Move

Plan My Move is a DoD relocation tool that provides a fully customizable three-month calendar and 'To Do' lists, which link individual moving tasks with installation information and important points of contact from MilitaryINSTALLATIONS.

In addition to an outline of the moving process that breaks the move down into manageable steps, Plan My Move also provides:

* An overview of each military installation that includes information on the local time and weather, mapping capabilities, and local installation photos

* Information on a number topics such as childcare, household goods, housing, motor vehicles, financial assistance, employment, and special needs

* Online moving tools that helps users organize their moves resulting from PCS or TDY/TCS orders. …

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