Are You Afraid of EFMP?


When the Defense Department established the Exceptional Family Member Program, it was for a few very practical reasons. They wanted to make sure military families had access to the services they need. And they wanted to make sure the military wasn’t paying through the nose to relocate a family or send them to far away medical appointments because the base they were sent to a place that couldn’t handle them.

Those seem like pretty reasonable goals. But reality is always, always more complicated than theory. And so, for some, the EFMP system has done exactly what it is supposed to do. And for others, it has created a logistics nightmare.

I hear from both kinds of families. One family I spoke with joined the military specifically because they knew EFMP would make sure their special needs kid got the help she needs. They’ve had access to a great EFMP office in the Pacific Northwest and have become very involved in the community. But at the same time, another family with only a few duty station options thanks to the Airman’s specialty has watched their career prospects crumble as one EFMP paperwork fiasco after another and a newly discovered peanut allergy has derailed PCS plans.

Meanwhile the DoD, tasked six years ago with streamlining the EFMP process between all services, is fighting an upstream battle. They have at least another three to fives years to go, they told me, before EFMP families can move without headaches between joint bases.

You can read that story over here on

If you’re a potential EFMP family with minor needs, you may be tempted to simply not enroll in EFMP. But if your chain of command was to discover that you skipped it on purpose, the service member could be subject to discipline under UCMJ for knowingly providing false information.

So tell us – are you afraid of EFMP or have you seen how awesome the program can be and had your concerns put to rest? Take our poll.

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of’s spouse and family blog A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.
  • Justin

    EFMP programs have definitely slowed my career. I was stuck in one place for 13 years had 2 assignments canceled before having to spend a year in Korea to be able to PCS only to be sent to a base that we were told had everything that somehow does not and they signed off on us PCSing here. Some portions of EFMP should leave decision power to parents and not solely to the military.

  • Kate

    My primary fear is not that it will affect my husband’s career (thankfully, that’s not a huge problem in his field), but that the EMFP process will be a pain-in-the-rear. Which it is.

    I was mandatorily enrolled five years ago for a judgement call issue that shouldn’t have required enrollment. Since then, we’ve wasted days of our lives on unnecessary paperwork.

    Last year, I had to update my status in so that my husband could be given orders to DC, which is the place they would have sent us if the board determined that I couldn’t go anywhere else. That’s just silly. Between a clueless local clinic staff, a clueless EFMP staff, some inter-service translation problems, and the failure of several people to follow through on the process, it took NINE months to get the right paperwork to the right people. After which, they determined that I shoudn’t have been in the program to start. What a phenomenal waste of time and money.

    I am glad that the EFMP program exists for families who actually need it, but the system was built wrong and I’m skeptical of the solutions that will come in the future.