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EFMP: Supporting Marines and their Families with Special Needs

You may have heard of the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) before, but do you know all that it does and how many Marine Families it touches?

The EFMP staff provide information and referral, non-clinical case management, and assistance before, during, and after a PCS.  EFMP conducts Needs Assessments and develops Service Plans in coordination with families to identify strengths and address ways to achieve desired goals. Ultimately, they provide assistance to families to help them become informed and empowered advocates for themselves and their family members.

EFMP offers opportunities for families to identify concerns and partner with installation and community resources to resolve and/or ameliorate those concerns. These opportunities can include ways for families to participate in social, recreational, and educational events. Events such as these are crucial because they promote family-to-family networking and allow families to build their natural support networks.

Below is a testimony from a Colonel who received assistance from EFMP.

“Today my wife and I went to our last annual Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting with our public school system for our son who has ADHD, dyslexia, and dysgraphia.

We came to the NCR knowing his ADHD would present an academic challenge, but his dyslexia and dysgraphia emerged during his first grade year, adding to that challenge.

To make a long story shorter, before EFMP developed School Liaisons and EFMP caseworkers, the burden was on us (really my wife) to learn/navigate the complexities of the special education process with (often against) the school district in order to achieve the best education and accommodations for our son. Thankfully, my wife was up to the task but we still almost ended up in court with the school district, and we spent a lot of money on advocates and lawyers along the way. This is not something every Marine family can do.

Once M&RA stood up the EFMP, our burden became much lighter. At the time, I was assigned to Pentagon and Mr. Mike Flaherty was our first case manager at Henderson Hall. We would come to lean on Mike for many years and I begrudgingly let him assign us a new case manager when he was promoted to the EFMP Program Manager position at Henderson Hall. For the last few years we've worked with Ms. Jennifer Wong and her advice and support has been outstanding.

If our EFMP experiences are typical, what we've seen since the EFMP stood up is an increasing awareness from school officials that the family team (Me, my wife, and the EFMP Case Manager) knows the special education rules and regulations, so the school didn't try to cut any corners. What this looked like for us specifically was increasing school team support for our accommodation requests, and a reduced level of stress associated with our son's learning challenges. This team effort resulted in a son who has overcome his dyslexia and is managing his dysgraphia and ADHD while thriving academically.

The EFMP case workers played a critical role in setting these conditions which we feel resulted in greater support for our son and allowed him to be much more than the "average student" that the school districts are required to teach to. He has achieved his potential.

In closing, our son will soon graduate high school and we're blessed with the challenge of deciding on which college he will go to (his acceptance list is long). Our thanks to your EFMP team on a job well done and a mission accomplished; helping a young man maximize his potential despite adversity."

Although we are highlighting EFMP during the Month of the Military Child, please note that EFMP services are available to any dependent of any age. Check out your local EFMP Office for more information. 

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