George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School

Army Announces Creation of the Army Exceptional Family Members Program, To Better Support Families With Special Needs

Written By Spring 2024 M-VETS Student Advisor Lucas Zelasko.

On March 28, 2024, the Army Secretary of the Army Chistine Wormuth announced the establishment of a central office for the Army Exceptional Family Members Program, in an attempt to improve the stationing process for families who have members with special medical or educational needs.[1] Soldiers on active duty enroll in the program when they have a family member with a physical, emotional, developmental or intellectual disorder requiring specialized services so their needs can be considered in the military personnel assignment process.[2] The overall goal of EFMP is to keep families together by allowing them to accompany their service member to their duty locations.[3] Previously, the station assignment for these soldiers occurred within the human resources branch of their occupational specialty.[4] For years, military families with special needs have detailed their problems with the availability and quality of medical care and special education.[5] Following a 2020 congressional hearing, lawmakers mandated EFMP standardization and improvements in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.

EFMP Objectives

  • To consider the medical needs of the family member during the continental U.S. (CONUS) and outside the continental U.S. (OCONOUS) assignment process.[6]
  • To consider the special education needs of the family member during the OCONUS assignment process.[7]
  • To assign soldiers to an area where the family member’s medical and special education needs can be accommodated, provided there is a valid personnel requirement for the soldier’s grade and specialty.[8]
  • To ensure that all eligible family members receive information and assistance needed to involve them with community support service to meet their needs.[9]

Eligibility & Enrollment

The special needs of the family member are documented utilizing the DD Form 2792 (Family Member Medical Summary).[10] An exceptional family member is a family member with any physical, emotional, developmental, or intellectual disorder that requires special treatment, therapy, education, training, or counseling.[11] Active Army soldiers with exceptional family members (children and adults) are required to enroll in EFMP.[12] Family members must be screened and enrolled when they accompany soldiers on OCONUS assignments.[13] These screenings include a medical records review for all family members and developmental screening for all children 72 months and younger.[14] Soldiers may initiate enrollment in EMFP by contacting their nearest Army Medical Treatment Facility EFMP case coordinator.[15] Additionally, soldiers are responsible for keeping the medical and/or special education needs documentation current as EFMP condition changes or at least every three years, whichever comes first.[16]

What does the soldier do if they have an EFMP dependent and they get reassigned?

If a service member has a dependent enrolled in EFMP, they will need to complete a DA Form 5888 (Family Member Deployment Screening Sheet) upon notification of any reassignment in which family accompaniment is authorized.[17] This screening will assist in identifying treatment facilities at the service member’s new duty station and ensure proper access and continuum of care for the exceptional family member.[18]

How does a soldier disenroll from EFMP?

Once a family member is enrolled in the EFMP, they remain in the program until: 1) the condition that warranted enrollment has been resolved; 2) when the soldier leaves the army; or 3) when the family member is no longer enrolled in DEERS.[19] Documentation is required to disenroll from the EFMP regardless of the circumstances and this documentation must be requested through either the medical provider for a medical enrollment or the school/early intervention provider for an educational enrollment.[20]

Does Enrollment have any impact on the Soldier’s career?

Enrollment in EFMP does not adversely affect selection for promotion, schools, or assignment, and information concerning enrollment in EFMP or any of the data used in the program is not made available to selection boards.[21]

Military families should first approach their Army Community Service or military treatment facility professionals if they need help or encounter barriers to education or healthcare needs for their family.[22] The Exceptional Family Members Program Office is available for additional support.[23]

[1] U.S. Army Public Affairs, Army Exceptional Family Member Program Central Office will better support Soldiers and Families (March 28, 2024).

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Rose L. Thayer, Army creates central office to manage moves of service families with special needs (March 28, 2024).

[5] Zamone Perez & Karen Jowers, Army creates office to better support families with special needs (March 29, 2024).

[6], EFMP Benefits Fact Sheet

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Army Enterprise Exceptional Family Member Program, New to EFMP? (September 22, 2023).

[11] Id.

[12] Army WMR, Exceptional Family Member Program,

[13] Id.

[14] Id.

[15] Army – MyArmyBenefits, EFMP Benefit Fact Sheet.

[16] Id.

[17] Id.

[18] Id.

[19] Army Enterprise Exceptional Family Member Program, New to EFMP?

[20] Id.

[21] Id.

[22] Perez & Jowers.

[23] Id.