Moving to Germany with EFMP
by Becca Stewart - January 3rd, 2022
You’ve just received word: you have orders to Germany! It’s an exciting time, but if you or a loved one is enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), you might also face some uncertainty. EFMP family members must be cleared for travel before any PCS. Overseas (OCONUS) travel requires additional screening.
It might feel nerve-wracking to wait on an EFMP clearance. But this process ensures that all EFMP members have access to vital services they need to thrive.
Below, you’ll find helpful information, online tools, and answers to your questions. However, for the most updated information about moving to Germany with an exceptional family member, contact your installation’s EFMP office.
What is the Exceptional Family Member Program?
The EFMP program began in 1979, designed to meet the medical, educational, and emotional needs of the military family. The Department of Defense created the program to fulfill three key goals:
Identify active duty family members with qualifying medical, emotional, developmental, or educational needs. Typically, EFMP enrollees require specialized support, whether medical specialists, mental health professionals, occupational or speech therapy, academic support, or other care.
Review these designations to ensure every EFMP member has access to essential services at each installation. As part of this process, the EFMP coordinators will determine whether sufficient services are available at the gaining installation.
Provide on-the-ground support for EFMP members and families at each installation. The EFMP office at each base offers support and helps families connect with services that meet their specialized needs. The EFMP office also hosts regular events to help EFMP families connect and network.
Being coded as an EFMP member can sometimes feel like a punishment. But remember, the program ensures you and your family members receive support wherever you’re stationed. If the EFMP member won’t have access to necessary services in Germany, it’s best to move somewhere else. It’s never easy to lose a chance to live overseas, but the health and safety of all military family members come first.
You can read more about PCSing with an EFMP child here.
Helpful EFMP Resources for your move to Germany
In the past, families with EFMP members faced a lengthy, confusing clearance process. Families PCSing to Germany often found themselves doing their own research into services and specialists, adding to an already growing to-do list. In 2020, the Department of the Air Force restructured the EFMP clearance process, making it easier to access EFMP information.
The EFMP & Me online tool, a resource available on Military One Source, provides all-in-one access for exceptional family members and caregivers. EFMP & Me allows users to customize profiles for each exceptional family member. You can access information, download checklists, and learn more about services available in Germany.
The EFMP clearance process for OCONUS moves
The Department of Defense has made some helpful changes to the OCONUS EFMP clearance process. Still, you’ll have some work ahead of you. Before the gaining installation in Germany clears the EFMP member for travel, you will need to do the following:
Contact your local EFMP support office and request a “warm hand-off” from your existing location to the gaining installation. The local EFMP office will provide you with the necessary paperwork and help you coordinate the process.
Check that all records are up to date (medical and academic).
Make an appointment with the EFMP member’s medical provider for a travel screening.
If your child is an EFMP enrollee because of educational considerations, contact the current school and request an updated IEP or other learning plans.
Fill out all required paperwork for EFMP OCONUS clearance. Contact your EFMP office with any questions.
Attend an appointment (either in-person or over the phone) with the EFMP coordinator and/or medical facility representative as required.
Once you have completed the screening process, you’ll face the worst part: waiting. Official clearance from the EFMP coordinator can take weeks or months. Eventually, you’ll either get approval to travel, or you will be denied.
What to do if your EFMP clearance is denied
An EFMP denial isn’t the end of the road. If you believe the gaining installation in Germany can provide the services your family member needs, you may request a reconsideration. Provide any relevant documentation you think might help your case. You might still be denied after this request, but it’s always worth a shot.
You may also request a change in assignment. In Germany, most Americans receive specialized medical services at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. You are more likely to receive EFMP approval if you can PCS to a location near Landstuhl, though this isn’t definite.
Without EFMP clearance, families have two options: the service member can go on unaccompanied orders, or the entire family can PCS to a location with more appropriate services.
For more information, contact the EFMP support office at your current or gaining installation.