DoD Wants to Hear From 110,000 Military Families With Special Needs

DoD Wants to Hear From 110,000 Military Families With Special Needs
A military family takes part in an Exceptional Family Member Program event at the Charles Town Landing Zoo near Joint Base Charleston, S.C., in 2018. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Helena B. Owens/Air Force)

This article by Karen Jowers originally appeared on Military Times, the nation's largest independent newsroom dedicated to covering the military and veteran community.


Service members who have family members with special needs are being encouraged to participate in the first-ever comprehensive Defense Department-wide survey.


Personnel enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program will receive an email invitation to participate in the 2022 Exceptional Family Member Program survey, which comes from the Office of People Analytics. There are about 110,000 active-duty service members currently enrolled in the EFMP, each of whom will be given a unique ticket number to access the web-based, confidential survey.


Once the documentation is sent to those service members, officials are encouraging spouses and other family members to help the service member to best provide the perspective of the entire family.


The Exceptional Family Member Program is mandatory for active-duty service members who have a family member with special medical or educational needs. Its goal is to ensure that the needs of those families are taken into consideration and support services are available during the process of a PCS move. Each branch of service administers the EFMP and provides service-specific guidance and resources.


[RELATED: MOAA Advisory Council Members Offer Tips for PCSing With Special Needs Children]


“The experience of our families enrolled in EFMP is important to us and this survey is an opportunity for each and every one of them to be heard,” said Patricia Montes Barron, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Military Community and Family Policy, in a DoD release.


“By completing the survey, families can make sure DoD understands where its policies and programs are helping them and where improvements can be made. Leadership will take the results from this survey seriously,” she said.


The survey focuses on identification and enrollment, assignment coordination during the PCS process, and family support. Results will be reported to DoD’s Office of Special Needs, service branch EFMP leadership, and personnel leadership.


[RELATED: Much-Needed Reform Would Benefit Special Needs Families on the Move]


For years, a number of military families with special needs have fought their own battles amid spotty assistance from the services and DoD to get the health care and educational services required by law.


Earlier this year, the nonprofit Partners in Promise released survey results from more than 1,000 parents, showing that military children face significant delays in getting the special education services they need. Frequent military moves exacerbate these problems.


Service members who are enrolled in EFMP but don’t receive an invitation to the survey can visit to participate in the survey.


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