Caring for your own

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Deborah McCall
  • 1st Special Operations Medical Group

“Because of the structure and the mandatory demands of military life, it is sometimes impossible for either the service member or family members to reduce demands (Saltzman, Pynoos, Lester, Layne & Beardslee, 2013)”

The military has a motto: “We take care of our own” A motto that not only pertains to the military member, but to the family members as well. This is especially true with special needs families during times of relocation. The military lifestyle is challenging in itself as service members face many demands outside the standard.

Military families move or relocate three times more than their civilian counterparts to an assignment, that can range from large cities to rural towns. Medical services can vary depending on the area and can impact the whole family, causing a great deal of stress, especially for families with special needs. These families’ special needs may include single-story housing, special medical equipment or require special educational assistance.

The Exceptional Family Member Program has been around for approximately seven years. Uniting military members with the Airmen and Family Readiness Center and the medical community, the program exists to ensure all needs of the military member and their family is met.

When military members are given an assignment notification, clearance must be received from the EFMP office before the member receives their orders.
Although it is not always ideal, sometimes it’s best to cancel the assignment and keep that member and their family where care is available. It is critical to ensure the medical care for that family member is met.

When the military member does not want to cancel their assignment, they will complete a form for the special needs coordinator to review the family’s medical records and determine if the family members are eligible for EFMP.

When the coordinator determines eligibility, the family member must complete a physical examination with their primary care provider and a face-to-face interview with the medical review officer.

The medical director will review the completed paperwork and make the final decision if the family can be cleared locally or if the paperwork needs to be reviewed by the gaining base. The gaining base’s medical director completes the review and makes a determination on whether or not the medical service availability meets the family’s needs. The EFMP program coordinators notify the members and personnel upon receipt of the decision. If the member does not agree with the decision there is an appeal process available.

The EFMP is designed to help the member and families have a smooth transition when they relocate from one base to another. “Caring for our own” through the process of medical screenings provides both the military and its members the security of knowing their needs will be taken care of no matter where they will go.