Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Military Families and Special Needs

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Military Families and Special Needs

Article excerpt

If you're part of a military family who has a family member with special needs, you're not alone. More than 100,000 * military families have members (spouses, children, or dependent parents) with special needs.

The Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) is a link to sources available through military services and civilian organizations that help families who have a member with special physical, emotional, developmental or intellectual needs. Assistance and information they provide relate to medical, educational, and housing needs, and includes support regarding community living and personnel issues (for example, considering needs during the military personnel assignment process). To learn more about the Exceptional Family Military Program, go to

The program can be effective when families make every effort to seek out services and plan ahead. But in some cases, taking the initiative to create a financial team from the civilian community to complement the services of the EFMP can be especially worthwhile.

The benefits of supplementing your EFMP support

"I spent 23 years in the military myself and have used EFMP services for my family," says Daniel Kline with Continuum Financial ( in Omaha, Nebraska, a general agency of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). "Now I can help military families who are busy with their everyday lives and sometimes feel overwhelmed. I can be a resource to them, along with what the military offers."

Kline suggests the following reasons for military families to augment their EFMP services with local professionals:


When you use financial professionals who can work in association with EFMP, you'll tap knowledge and experience that can help you see your situation from a new point of view and help you determine gaps or where changes should be made in your family's life care plan. You'll also have a point person who knows your situation--no matter where in the world you may go.

"My clients find they feel a sense of stability in their lives by maintaining a relationship with me," explains Kline, "regardless of where they may be stationed. With today's technology--webcams, e-mail, cell phones, scanners, faxes--we can be in touch any time. And if a family's relocation affects their financial strategy in some way, such as state laws affecting a special needs trust (SNT) they might have in place, I can help you locate local professionals to assist with changes that may be needed."

Extensive training

"The amount of training we receive separates us from other financial professionals in field," says Kline. "We're trained in the emotional aspect that individuals and families with special needs experience. And our training is ongoing. A recent class delved into the nature of disabilities, the emotions families face, as well as the challenges and how we can better understand what they're going through. While each family--whether military or civilian--is unique, we have a sense of what they're going through."



A financial professional should be focused on more than just financial strategies. "We help clients develop life care plans," Kline explains, "which take into consideration numerous aspects of their lives and how a financial strategy can provide solutions to challenges they face now and may have in the future." He recommends that families who currently have financial strategies in place review them regularly to ensure that the strategies remain on target with the family's goals and needs.

Team of professionals

Families with special needs count on a variety of people to help them meet their needs, such as case workers at their social security office, their medical team, their banker and attorney, and a number of people at various organizations within the community. …

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