QUANTICO, VA, UNITED STATES
Manpower And Reserve Affairs began conducting a study in March 2016 to learn whether Marines with family members enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program are disadvantaged or limited in their careers. Their study was completed in December 2016 with results some Marines may find interesting.
The EFMP is a mandatory Department of Defense support program for military family members who have special medical and/or educational requirements. The program is designed to help coordinate permanent change of station assignments to locations where family members with a diagnosed physical, psychological or educational need have access to required care.
“In 2007, the EFMP found that approximately 70 percent of Marines believed a stigma was associated with enrollment in the program,” said Jennifer Stewart, the EFMP Section Head for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. “People associated EFMP enrollment with limited opportunities that would affect their potential for promotion, such as serving in a special duty assignment as a drill instructor or recruiter.”
In response, Headquarters Marine Corps changed its procedures to ensure EFMP enrolled Marines were more eligible to transfer to previously closed-off duty stations and assignments. These changes were effective. In 2011, a Naval Audit Service Report showed that the perceived negative stigma associated with EFMP enrollment had decreased to 30 percent. Although the percentage decreased, the stigma that EFMP enrollment restricted career advancement continued to linger.
The 2016 study looked at career length, highest grade achieved and time to achieve the Marine’s highest grade to determine if there was still any truth to the stigma. The study determined there is little evidence of any negative impact on career progression and promotion due to EFMP enrollment.
“Not only did we find that career advancement was not distinguishably impacted by EFMP enrollment, we also learned that, on average, EFMP enrollees serve slightly longer than their non-EFMP active duty counterparts,” said Stewart.
For Staff Sgt. James A. McGregor, the Regional Network Operations and Security Center Watch Chief for Marine Corps Forces Reserve, being enrolled in the program has not only benefitted his family, but he also accredits the EFMP with improving his career.
“My wife is the family member enrolled in the program,” said McGregor. “She is paraplegic. Knowing that I am able to provide the best for my family, allowed me to put maximum effort into being a Marine. My wife is very self-sufficient, but having the program ensures that she can overcome any obstacle no matter how big. Even though my career might separate me from my family, I know that she will be provided for by not only the EFMP staff, but by the network of other families enrolled in the program as well.”
During his career, McGregor also served as a recruiter, disproving the stigma that enrollees are restricted or severely limited from serving in special duty assignments.
“Being enrolled in the EFMP had no bearing on my assignment to recruiting duty,” said McGregor. “Our EFMP representative out of Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego was extremely helpful with the transition. They ensured Tricare would continue to provide care to my wife, and assisted us with house-hunting prior to getting there. My chain of command was also extremely supportive of my family.”
Although the program has worked to accommodate his family’s needs, the program has restricted him from an experience he wanted to share with his family.
“I had duty station preference when I came up on my first re-enlistment,” said McGregor. “I wanted my family to have the same experience I did as a young Marine at my first duty station in Japan. I had orders cut to move to Okinawa upon returning from a deployment to Afghanistan. Nearly a month after my original orders were received, I was reassigned to Officer Candidates School aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. I later found out that my orders to Japan were denied through the EFMP because they couldn’t guarantee we would have housing.”
Overall, McGregor says that he does not regret his duty assignments or the opportunities he has been afforded in the Marine Corps. The EFMP and his fellow Marines have been nothing but supportive of him and his family.
“Although I wish I had the chance to return to Okinawa, I don’t regret the assignments that I’ve had during my career,” said McGregor. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with many top-notch Marines. If it wasn’t for their influence and support throughout the years, I would not be the Marine I am today.”
Although the researchers with Manpower and Reserve Affairs learned that a vast majority of Marines enrolled in the EFMP are not disadvantaged, they say there is always room for improvement.
“By fostering and maintaining positive and professional working relationships with the occupational field monitors, and improving the consistency of education and training opportunities for families, I believe we can improve our services as well as dispel myths and negative perceptions surrounding the program,” said Stewart.
For more information regarding the EFMP, visit www.usmc-mccs.org/services/family/exceptional-family-member/.
||QUANTICO, VA, US
This work, Study dispels myths surrounding Exceptional Family Member Program, by PFC Brendan Roethel, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.