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EFMP Screenings Required for Overseas Assignments: Here's What You Need to Know

By Tiffany Shedd

When I married my solider, I had to do a lot of military related paperwork and rigmarole very quickly. He was already on orders to go to Alaska, and because it’s considered an overseas assignment, I got the news that I needed to have an EFMP screening.

I had no idea what this entailed or why I was required to have it. Being an extremely new spouse, I didn’t even have anyone to ask. Today, I would have done what I always do when I am unsure about something: Google it.

Luckily for me, it ended up being a non-issue, and I was sent on my merry way to Alaska. Hopefully after reading this post, you won’t be as confused or concerned about your upcoming EFMP screening.

If your service member gets orders to an overseas assignment that can accommodate family members, every member of your family must appear in person and go through an EFMP screening. The first place to start (if you want to skip Google), is to check out your service branch’s EFMP website. For the Army, here is a link. This will give you a very broad overview of what the screening is and why it’s required.

This is just a screening, this means that you’ve filled out a questionnaire about your medical and health history and then you have an appointment with someone to go over that information. If you are an Army spouse/ family and want to get a look at the forms ahead of time, here’s a link with the forms available for download.

While for most people going to these appointments will be given a clean bill of health and sent on their way, during this process the Army identifies 12 percent of family members who qualify as having special needs during this screening.

This is only a screening, so if you or a family member is identified as having special needs for the first time, then you will likely be referred to your PCM for further screening. This can slow down your PCS process, so it’s important to get your EFMP screening done as soon as you can.

The screening process can sometimes take up to 30 days to complete due to a variety of factors, such as staffing and availability of appointments, issues that arise during screening, back up with paperwork (getting your medical records from previous duty stations can take a while if you don’t have hard copies already on hand), etc.

If you or a family member is already a part of the EFMP program, everyone, including your EFMP family member, will still need to go through this process. Overseas or OCONUS deployments add extra challenges to EFMP families, because your arriving duty station may not have the medical or educational resources that you or your family member(s) requires.

Even if you already have orders with family members on it, it’s possible that that could change after your screening. It can be frustrating and infuriating even, but I wouldn’t want to be stuck in a country far from home and find out the nearest pediatric neurologist was six hours away while my son was having a cluster of breakthrough seizures.

So, yes, this screening is another thing you have to fit into your already busy PCS schedule, but honestly, it’s for your own good. I went into my appointment not knowing what to expect. I didn’t know if there was an exam or if my history of migraines was going to prevent me from joining my husband.

I answered the questions honestly and waited to see how it was going to work out for me. For some of you who have been struggling to get resources for a family member, this may actually be a catalyst that spurs that into action.

Be honest and prepared. It may not work out the way you hope, but it will work out for the best care for you and your family in the end.

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