GRAFENWOEHR, Germany – Located at Army Community Services, Bldg. B322, on Rose Barracks the Exceptional Family Member Program is an Army- wide program designed to assist individuals who have a family member, regardless of age, with a disability of any kind that requires special treatment or services
EFMP Program Manager Monique O’Neil has been at USAG Bavaria for a year and a half. Her background includes time with the Marines, where she worked in a similar program designed to help Marines with exceptional family members.
EFMP is tailored for dependent family members of Active Duty, Army Reserve and Army National Guard personnel, as well as some civilian employees.
For family members with children school age and younger, EFMP works closely with Educational and Developmental Intervention Services; Child and Youth Services; and the school system to assist parents or guardians in finding the best options for their child. This begins with a team approach to evaluating health, behavioral and/ or learning issues which could impact the child’s success.
The same program can be run differently, depending on what branch of the military is administrating that program, so O’Neil’s goal was to learn how EFMP was ran in the Army.
O’Neil is passionate and knowledgeable about helping families. Monique O’Neil can be contacted at DSN 476-2758, CIV 09662-83-2758.
Ten questions for Monique O’Neil:
1. How can you explain what EFMP does?
The services are for anyone, as long as they are military affiliated, we will help them with a referral. However, they must be command sponsored in order to utilize the medical, housing and school services. Command sponsorship means that the family is endorsed by their command to be in Bavaria. Before they come, we ask ‘Do we have the services to support them?’ Without command sponsorship it’s like being here unauthorized, and it causes a lot of problems. A child can’t go to school, a person can’t use the health clinic. We help with housing, if there is a need for specialized housing, for handicapped plaques for a car, anything they need.
2. What is the hardest part of your job?
The honest answer, is the red tape, when you are trying to get the commanders to understand the importance of these programs. Once you get through the red tape, it’s such a good joy.
3. What is the best part of your job?
Doing my job. I love working with families. I love to see the families light up when it works. That’s the fun part.
4. What is your ultimate goal at your position?
My over-arching goal is to help families know how EFMP can help them. A long- range goal would be to do a sensory room, like a discovery center, a small rock climbing wall, water tables, and a place where kids can go to discover and learn.
5. What is Child Find?
Once a quarter we have Educational and Developmental Intervention Services, which is geared for families of infants and toddlers, come to ACS. Parents can bring their child to see a physical therapist, occupational therapist, and speech therapist for evaluation. In some instances, we can also have a developmental pediatrician. It is designed to help parents. The professionals will look for bench marks, to see how the child is doing developmentally. In some instances, the parents are first time parents, and they are far from home. No family member is available to help out with recognizing the developmental stages. It’s good for the parents to be connected. If we can catch the child at 2, we can start putting services in place.
6. What is your educational background?
I have Bachelors of Science in Speech Communications with a minor in Education and Psychology from Texas Southern University. I also have a Masters Certificate in Human Relations. I am also MRT Certified, which means I am a Master’s Resiliently Trainer, and am also MTC Certified by the Office of the Secretary of Defense., which means that I am a master trainer.
7. What is one thing you would like people to know about EFMP?
EFMP has 2 components. ACS is the first component. This component offers educational classes, and support groups, referrals, PCS assistance, and the Lending Closet. Also, ACS helps with housing support and referral. The medical component is the second component. Medical helps with enrollment in EFMP, updating status, command sponsorship, and the screening packet that has to be filled out as part of obtaining command sponsorship.
8. What would you recommend for parents?
Be engaged with EFMP – the different workshops. I just don’t want them to be successful at USAG Bavaria, I want them to be successful throughout life. It’s about learning to do this themselves. I want to teach them how to advocate for their special needs family member.
9. What is your favorite time of year in reference to your job?
Summer, even though it’s a busy time. I get to see the families more and have more interaction with them.
10. What is the most rewarding part about your job?
When I see a child, and they smile and say ‘Let’s go to Miss Monique’s office.’ When you get the trust of a child, they know it’s safe.