MOAA is encouraging Navy families make their voices heard by completing the service’s latest survey on its Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP).
The Navy’s survey, which is open until June 15, will help service leaders gauge the quality of the program. MOAA has championed improved services and resources for military special needs families in all service branches, culminating with testimony during a House Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee hearing earlier this year.
“The challenges of caring for a special needs family member are magnified by the unique aspects of military service, including frequent moves and family separations,” said Karen Ruedisueli, MOAA’s director of government relations for health affairs. “Congress has repeatedly expressed the belief that expanding support for families with special needs is a critical requirement for the all-volunteer force and we agree. Shortfalls with the EFMP and problematic TRICARE policies must be addressed to improve support.”
The EFMP helps families in two critical ways: By making sure special needs are documented so they can be considered during military assignments, and by easing access to assistance. Families can get this help via Family Support services on installations or by calling Military OneSource for a special needs consultation (learn more here).
The Navy’s survey follows a February HASC Personnel Subcommittee hearing where military family advocates testified about problems with the EFMP. Dozens of military special needs families attended the hearing.
Ruedisueli was among five military family advocates who testified. She said frequent relocations are part of military life, but they inevitably disrupt the continuity of care that manages complex medical condition.
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“MOAA is focused on fixing EFMP and TRICARE policies so gaps in care and treatment delays are minimized,” she said, adding that as the Armed Services committees work on the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), MOAA is urging them to include two bills that address these critical issues:
- The Military Family Readiness Improvement Act (H.R. 6489) would streamline access to medical care following PCS moves, improve the EFMP screening process for availability of specialty care at gaining installations, and enhance case management services.
- The TRICARE ECHO Improvement Act (H.R. 6148) would improve consistency of support for mobile military families unable to access state Medicaid waiver services due to extensive wait lists. This bill would improve the Extended Care Health Option (ECHO) coverage policy to bring it in line with state Medicaid.
The Navy is encouraging special needs families registered in the EFMP in the past 12 months to complete its survey. Families will be able to share their experiences with family support services, referrals to military and community resources, medical services, special education services, and assignment coordination.
The survey is anonymous with no login information required. Officials say it will take about 25 minutes to finish, and the results will be reviewed by leadership to judge the program’s quality.
“We are committed to ensuring our sailors and their families are provided the maximum support possible as they serve our Navy and country,” said LaToya Travis, EFMP program analyst with Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC). “At the end of the day, we want our sailors to focus on their mission and rest assured that we are here with the services needed to help them care for their families.”