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United States Marine Corps Exceptional Family Members

Monday, November 28, 2011
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Nov. 28, 2011


U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) family members serve and sacrifice alongside their active-duty service members.

Among the challenges that military families face are separation from extended family, military member absences, permanent changes of station (PCS), and the stresses of deployment. For families that include members with disabilities, the challenges of this lifestyle are compounded. In addition to being a human concern, appropriate access to adequate supports and services for family members with disabilities can have far-reaching implications for force readiness and mission focus. The USMC’s chief instrument for addressing the needs of USMC family members with disabilities is the USMC Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), established by the Marine Corps in 1990, through which it coordinates assignments and provides family support. Since 2008, at the behest of USMC leadership, EFMP has been expanded and enhanced, and the transformation of EFMP is ongoing.

At the request of the USMC, the National Council on Disability (NCD) conducted a study to systematically examine the challenges experienced by this segment of the USMC community and to identify steps toward ameliorating these challenges. The objectives for this study were to (1) document the experiences of USMC families with members with disabilities in accessing appropriate and effective services in health care, special education and related services, and long-term supports and services; (2) identify barriers impeding access to appropriate resources; and (3) develop recommendations to improve access.

NCD conducted focus groups and interviews of caretakers, family members with disabilities, and service providers between January and March 2010 at Marine Corps Base (MCB) Quantico, Camp Lejeune, and Camp Pendleton—three large USMC bases to which many EFMP families are assigned.

An official website of the National Council on Disability