The Exceptional Family Member Program, a mandatory program for active-duty Army Soldiers with Family members with special needs, helps families with special needs find what they need.
“The purpose of the enrollment is so the Department of the Army can track those Soldiers with special needs Family members so they are not sending them to installations where services (they need) are not available,” said Michelle Tribill, EFMP systems navigator. “You don’t want a Family to be stationed at a remote location and they may need for their children a physician that specializes in cardiology and they have to drive hours and hours to get those services.”
Special needs include medical needs such as asthma, autism or chronic diseases and educational needs such as delayed development, speech therapy or special education.
“Any time a Family member needs to see a physician above the level of what a (primary care manager) can do, like your regular primary care physician they more than likely need to be enrolled in our program,” Tribill said.
“When we in-process a new family that is new to Fort Benning, they may say ‘can you tell us what recreational opportunities are available in this area for children with special needs?’” said Nicqolle Truit, EFMP specialist. “We have partnerships off-post and we have resources and information about recreational opportunities off-post as well as on the installation. So we provide them with points of contact, we talk to them about their rights and responsibilities as a parent of a child with special needs — that’s part of the resources and information, and we also coordinate recreational events on the installation for Soldiers and Families.”
Truitt said Families new to the area might not know of the opportunities available for them.
“They don’t see what we see. So if we already have partnerships and connections with off-post organizations like Easter Seals, the May Institute for Autism, Challenger Baseball League, Safe Kids Columbus — all of those connections that we have, we can refer Families to those areas,” she said.
Tribill said it was important for Families to know the difference between the two components that make up EFMP: Army Community Service EFMP and MEDDAC EFMP.
“(ACS EFMP) provides information, referrals and resources to those Families including support groups, respite care program, recreational opportunities for children with special needs,” Tribill said. “We make sure that when Families transition in and out of the installation we make sure that they have access to services, have that information as a systems navigator I help them navigate complex systems such as school systems.”
Those enrolling, disenrolling or updating their EFMP records should go to the MEDDAC EFMP, located at the pediatrics clinic at Martin Army Community Hospital in room 175-68.
ACS EFMP does not have access to enrollment information or diagnosis, Tribill said, but Families can disclose information voluntarily to ACS EFMP. The ACS EFMP office is located in Building 7 on Baltzell Avenue.
For more information about ACS EFMP, call 706-545-5521. For more information about enrollment, call MEDDAC EFMP at 706-544-5930 or 706-544-1133.