ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
Some things are not always what they seem.
That’s often the case with the Exceptional Family Member Program.
EFMP, as it is often called, is a mandatory enrollment program designed to support military service members that have a special needs family member.
“If you have a family member that sees a specialist more than once a year or has a diagnosed physical, intellectual or emotional-psychological condition, the service member may be required to enroll in the EFMP,” said V. Renea McFeeters, Robins Airman & Family Readiness Center’s EFMP-Family Support coordinator.
EFMP is offered Defense Department wide, with each service branch offering its own program.
The Air Force has three components of EFMP: Medical, Assignments, and Family Support.
Airmen enroll in the EFMP through medical. Once enrolled in EFMP, Assignments will place a Q-code on the service member’s personnel record. Finally, the Family Support component assists military families during a permanent change of station or whenever they might need some help navigating resources, both on & off the installation.
While the EFMP is designed to help military members and their families, rumors have circulated that have left some Airmen with misconceptions about the program.
“The biggest misconception about EFMP is that if a service member gets Q-coded, they won’t be able to make rank or travel to overseas locations,” McFeeters said.
The Q code is a way personnel records are marked, so it is not part of testing for rank or going before a board, McFeeters explained.
Traveling overseas, McFeeters said, is dependent on what resources are available at a particular location, at that particular time.
“Specialists & resources often change, so that is why it is necessary to always check to see if resources are available,” she said.
McFeeters said Airmen mistakenly think EFMP enrollment will hurt their career.
“I think that service members think that by being enrolled in the EFMP, it will stagnate their career or keep them from being promoted and that creates fear,” she said. “EFMP is really a benefit & service members can definitely appreciate the program once they understand that it is meant to help them.”
Airmen are often also concerned that they could never disenroll in EFMP.
“You are able to disenroll once the condition no longer exists or the five-year time frame for some conditions, such as cancer, is no longer pertinent,” she said. “There is some extensive paperwork, but the EFMP-Medical team is always willing to help with that.”
McFeeters has been the EFMP-Family Support coordinator for 10 years.
In that time, she has seen changes with the program.
“I can see that the Air Force really is about assisting its service members and their families by ensuring that they have access to resources,” McFeeters said.
One of the most positive changes to the program has been in the Respite Care Program, McFeeters said.
“Respite Care is definitely a program that benefits EFMP families by allowing parents to get a break that they may not otherwise be able to get,” she said.
EFMP families can now out-process through A&FRC.
“We can do a family needs assessment & put them in touch with their gaining installation for the best information and referrals for their new community,” McFeeters said.
No matter where military families are in their journey, EFMP can help.
“EFMP helps families navigate resources to assist their family during a PCS, a new diagnosis or at any time that they feel they need assistance,” she said. “We are also here to help find support groups in the community, help with educational concerns, promote the Air Force Respite Care Program, and offer recreation programs through local agencies with little or no fees.”
McFeeters said being able to help a military family find resources that make their life better is just one way of making a difference in their lives.
To get more information on the Air Force EFMP program, visit https://www.afpc.af.mil/Benefits-and-Entitlements/Exceptional-Family-Member-Program/.
For more information about EFMP at Robins, call 478-926-1259 or e-mail Virginia.McFeeters.firstname.lastname@example.org.