Tricare/Therapy Thursdays- Myths About EFMP


I got some “great” advice when we first entered the Army- Dont register for EFMP. <— that was sarcasm, did you see that? Because signing up for EFMP is the real great advice. But your probably asking what the heck is EFMP.

According to Military One Source

What is the Exceptional Family Member Program?

The EFMP supports military families with special medical and educational needs. The program has three components:

  • Identification and enrollment of a family member with special medical or educational needs
  • Assignment coordination to determine the availability of services at the projected duty station
  • Family support to help families identify and access programs and service”

EFMP is a confidential program. It is on a need to know basis. Basically it’s main purpose is to assist with assignment purposes only. Enrolling in EFMP will not increase or decrease your chances at unaccompanied or accompanied tours or deployments.

In order to enroll in EFMP here are some helpful forms:

DD Form 2792

DD Form 2792-1

Ok, now that we got the basics out of the way, lets talk about some of the myths; including the reason behind why I was told to never go on EFMP.

Myth 1: Your husband will never be promoted
This is the reason I was told as a brand spanking new Army wife to never enroll a family member in EFMP. I was told the reasoning was because if we enrolled in EFMP, it will show the solider has to much going on in his personal life to be able to handle the tasks and job in the Army.

Myth 2: It limits your duty station; in so facto, limits promotions
This is one reason you need to enroll in EFMP if you qualify. By enrolling in EFMP you will be ensured that you are only PCSed to locations that can handle your medical needs. Every base has a radius of medical care doctors, therapists, and the like have to be within. Example: While stationed at Fort Rucker, AL, we were told upon our overseas EFMP screening that Fort Rucker’s radius for medical care is 40 miles. They explained that since care for our son was over the 40 mile radius, as dependents we can not be stationed at Fort Rucker again. However, Hubs can still go to Fort Rucker for schooling, classes and presumably be stationed there. As dependents we would have to find alternative lodging. So I was shocked when we got orders to Hawaii. I underestimated the medical system here. “Tripler Army Medical Center is the only federal tertiary care hospital in the Pacific Basin”, per TAMC’s website.

Myth 3: EFMP is only for the severely disabled
Um, no. All three of my children are on EFMP. They walk, talk, eat and poop just the same as you and me (well, mostly). Enrolling them on EFMP was to ensure that when we did PCS from Hawaii, we would move to a place that meet all their needs for medical and therapies. That, however, does not mean medical and therapies will be open when arriving to our new duty station. I know for certain there are wait lists at specific bases for ABA and respite.

Myth 4: Being on EFMP puts you first on the priority list for housing
Oh, how I wish I knew about how that worked when we moved here (and lived in a hotel for 59 days). Enrolling in EFMP only means there are needs that need to be meet. And as you know, everyone has different needs; not everyone needs are the same. For example, I have three kids with three different reason for enrollment on EFMP. With that being said, you need to submit your paperwork to housing for them to make the judgement if you qualify for special housing or priority on a wait list. Had I known this we would have been bumped up on the wait list. In Hawaii, they then submit our EFMP paperwork to the medical board who makes the decision whether or not we need priority or special housing. To find out what paperwork is needed, please call your housing office on post. I suggest calling before you PCS so you can make sure you have all needed documents on hand or if possible provide them ahead of your arrival.

Myth 5: Being enrolled in EFMP makes the service member non-deployable
HAHAHAAHA! Sorry for laughing, but I can tell you that my husband just did a 12 month deployment and we have three (two at the time) children on EFMP and one has a life-long, life-threatening condition. A service members status is always deployable.

Just remember the service member is at the needs of the Army. The EFMP is to help the family members enrolled. Giving the service member the reassurance that his/her families health needs will be taken care of at their duty station makes a prepared and ready service member. My husband found solace in knowing that his family was taken care of when he deployed. And he finds that same solace in knowing when we PCS again that we will only go where our children will be taken care of. Even if that means accepting another tour here. He has never been told our EFMP status has effected his work or his promotion status. And most people at his work do not even know that he has three children on EFMP.

EFMP can be a great source of help and assistance. Please don’t be afraid of enrolling, and actually you HAVE to enroll if you are instructed to by your doctor.

Her & Nicole

Tricare Testing the Waters; Failing to Swim

Again it looks like AD (active duty) families are rightfully spared the chopping block…this time. But with the raising cost of health care aligned with the rise in diagnosed ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) children; when will the two clash? Some are complaining that Autism is being over and misdiagnosed.  Parents are searching for a scapegoat for either their own poor parenting skills, uncontrollable children or  lack of a different diagnosis. With all these new cases of ASD coming to the forefront those with extreme or mild ASD are the ones who will eventually suffer. When cases come up with severe ASD children, there might not be enough ABA’s or therapists to handle the case.  In the future, something will have to give. I’m thinking we will either see changes to the Tricare ABA policy permanent or the cost share will dramatically go up.

I think what we were all witness to was Tricare dipping their toes in the water. How far can they push until they get a reaction? However, instead of a simple toe dip, Tricare jumped in head first. Luckily, us parents were there to save them before they drowned. Maybe they will learn their lesson. Nevertheless, as a parent, I have a feeling they are going to test the boundaries a few more times.

In an email addressed on July 24th, one day before the new Tricare ABA guidelines were suppose to go into effect, Tricare sent out a passive yet informative email.  They wrote “Beginning July 25, 2013, the Department of Defense is expanding autism services available to retirees and other non-active duty family members with the introduction of the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) pilot program. There are no changes to the level of care and service being currently provided to active-duty family members.”

No apologies were written for their abrupt and unemotional apathetic rudeness towards military families with special needs children. But isn’t that one of the first things we teach our children; when to say “sorry”?

Tricare and Therapy Thursday: Sometimes Kids Cry

Kids cry.  A lot.  They are learning how to negotiate the world in little bodies that don’t always do what they want them to, and with little mouths that don’t always say the words they wish they could.  Oh, and the grown-ups in charge of them don’t let them do what they want.  EVER.  Just because we’re mean and we take pleasure out of torturing little kids.  Okay, I’m obviously joking, but sometimes you have to laugh or you’ll cry yourself.  Check out this pin I found on pinterest about reasons kids cry:

Screen Shot 2013-07-25 at 12.25.13 PMScreen Shot 2013-07-25 at 12.26.18 PMScreen Shot 2013-07-25 at 12.25.52 PMScreen Shot 2013-07-25 at 12.26.47 PMScreen Shot 2013-07-25 at 12.27.52 PMScreen Shot 2013-07-25 at 12.28.19 PMScreen Shot 2013-07-25 at 12.28.37 PMScreen Shot 2013-07-25 at 12.29.01 PMScreen Shot 2013-07-25 at 12.29.26 PMScreen Shot 2013-07-25 at 12.29.49 PM

I was dying when I saw these.  Sometimes a mom just needs a good laugh to keep her sanity.  Just go to pinterest and type “reason my son is crying” into the search bar to see more 🙂

All that said, kids get frustrated a lot by things we don’t necessarily understand, but it is very real to them at the time.  This is especially true with kiddos on the autism spectrum, and even more so when they struggle with language.  All the therapy that we do with our little guys can make them very frustrated and cry because it is hard.  Therapists don’t take the time to come and work with them on the stuff that they can already do, they push them to do the things they struggle with.  Although it can be hard on us to hear our kids cry and be frustrated, sometimes that is actually the sound of them growing and learning.

I’m not saying it’s easy.  My heart breaks when my sons are crying.  But saving them from those frustrating moments now can rob them of a teachable moment or some real progress on their goals later.  When I dropped my son off at day care yesterday he was a mess because he didn’t want to wash his hands and follow the routines of the room.  I almost said just forget it, and pulled him out to take him home.  But, his therapist assured me he would be fine so I left.  About 20 minutes later, she texted me this picture of him participating in circle time, on his own.


Mine’s the little blondie in the striped shirt ❤

Had I taken him home to make it “easier” on him, he wouldn’t have gotten the experience of calming himself and choosing to participate in an appropriate activity with his peers on his own.  Maybe it was hard on me, but letting him work through it was in his own best interest.  Giving your kids the room they need to grow is one of the hardest parts of parenting, I think, but also one of the places where you can feel the most reward.

Wordy Wenesday – ACC

So I had a great post all planned out. lt was gonna introduce you all to MOPS or if you already know about them let you know how I love them. And then life happened and now I will sadly define ACC.

ACC (Acute Care Clinic) • “The Acute Care Clinic provides urgent care to patients experiencing acute illnesses or injuries. Our beneficiaries include active duty and retired military personnel, their family members, and other DoD/Tricare beneficiaries.” Via US Army Health Clinic Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

I’m not sure how long the wait is based on your location but here we have mainly waited about 30 min before we are seen. And today was no different.

We were happily planning on the beach when Bug fell. He tried to stop himself with his hand and a rock cut into it. The first call I made was to his ABA and the second was to Hubs. Luckily for us his ABA was able to go with us too the ACC. It took 5 male nurses to hold Bug down while his ABA covered he arm with a sheet shielding him from seeing what was going on.


Two stitches later and we were out the door. But boy you should have seen the looks and stares we got as we left. I think we emotionally scared a few kids.

Goals, Not Grades, Matter in School

Mommy Mondays


Within the next few weeks Bug will go back to school to start kindergarten testing. I am buying school supplies, stocking up on new clothes and plan on taking him shopping for a new lunch box of his choosing later this week. Having already completed Jr. kindergarten last year; I do expect this year to be easy for him. But instead of focusing on his grades and report cards; I’ve decided to focus on his goals. Bug is a smart little guy. His vocabulary seems to be building every day. But like him; last year was a learning experience for us all.

I came across this article a while back which taught me a new lesson about being a ASD parent. Its not the grades that matter at this point; its the goals. writes about how we should not put to much worth into report cards for our special needs children, but put stock in the environment and progress they are making.

My once mellow meek little boy was coming home on “yellows” and “reds” in his daily reports. Messages from the teacher always consisted of the words “rolling”, “floor”, and “lack of focus”. Well, that pretty much sums up most children with ASD. Short term attention spans, constantly moving bodies and a lack of focus. What I didn’t understand was why she kept making negative comments about it. He is diagnosed ASD and with that diagnosis is the understanding that he probably has some sort of attention deficient disorder (he will soon be tested to confirm). So instead of complaining about his behavior, why didn’t she help fix it?

It was only around spring break last year when I learned she was not following his IEP. Furthermore, his behavior was so bad it was effecting his grades and effecting his goals. “R” for regression started to show up on his progress reports and by the last day of school I was looking at a child that had made no noticeable progress in his academics the entire year. At his last IEP meeting we made the unanimous decision he needed to repeat kindergarten.

I think of kindergarten (and Jr. kindergarten) as a learning ground, not for math and science; but for learning how life works. You learn to wait your turn in line, how to share, how to take turns, and even how to ask for help. Progress shouldn’t be measured in A’s, B’s and C’s; it should be measured in “Mastered”, “Emerging” and “Progress”.