NCD Report Examines How to Improve Access to Critical Services for USMC Family Members with Disabilities

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WASHINGTON — On November 28, the National Council on Disability (NCD) will release "United States Marine Corps Exceptional Family Members: How to Improve Access to Health Care, Special Education, and Long-term Supports and Services for Family Members with Disabilities." The report, based on a study conducted within the United States Marine Corps (USMC), examines the challenges experienced by Marines with "Exceptional Family Members" (EFMs) – the term used by the USMC for family members with disabilities.

For the study, NCD collected experiences of the USMC community through focus groups and interviews with caretakers, family members with disabilities and service providers between January and March 2010 at three large bases where many EMFP families are assigned: Marine Corps Base Quantico, Camp Lejeune and Camp Pendleton.

Findings included the following:

  • Navigating systems and obtaining disability-related services requires relentless hard work and is a process many families with EFMs have to start over every time the family moves;
  • EFMs lamented the lack of quality health care specialists near their installations. Timely referrals and appointments are difficult to obtain;
  • Frequent moves to new school systems result in substantial gaps in critical education and therapeutic services for EFMs in need of special education;
  • The lack of Medicaid portability is a significant barrier to obtaining vital long-term care. Currently, families are added to a new Medicaid waiver waiting list with each move and often do not live in one place long enough to qualify. Tricare does not cover the same services provided under the Medicaid waiver.

"United States Marine Corps family members serve and sacrifice alongside active duty members," said Jonathan Young, NCD's Chairman. "For family members with disabilities, difficulty obtaining supports and services can add to the stress of deployment and compound already challenging situations such as separation from extended family and permanent changes of station, but progress is being made. NCD hopes the information contained in the report will continue to improve access and attention as sought by the USMC who requested the study."

The report concludes by calling for prompt action and making short and long-term recommendations to improve overall access for the USMC's Exceptional Family Member Program.

About the National Council on Disability: NCD is a small, independent federal agency comprised of 15 Presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed Council Members and a small staff, who advise the President, Congress and other Federal agencies on disability policy, programs and services.

Full report is available on NCD's website at: /publications/2011/Nov282011

Media contact:
Lawrence Carter-Long, Public Affairs Specialist 
Email: LCarterLong@ncd.gov
Phone: 202-272-2112 (voice)
202-272-2074 (TTY) 202-603-9209 (cell)