Support for Special Needs Families

Military families tell our Association the issues they face in caring for a special needs family member while simultaneously supporting the service of the military member are complex. Most often, meeting these needs requires the coordination of many distinct military and community entities, with the responsibility for that coordination too often falling to the already-burdened family. Military families caring for a special needs family member need not just medical and educational support. They also need assistance from state and local agencies, relocation help, respite, and family support, especially if they are also dealing with the deployment of their service members.

Our Association supports:

  • Ensuring any changes made to the ECHO benefit incorporate the needs of families with ALL diagnoses.
  • Expanding DoD’s Autism Demonstration coverage of Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy to all eligible ECHO-enrolled beneficiaries when therapy is deemed necessary by their physicians.
  • Developing a DoD pilot study to identify what additional service(s) special needs families need to improve their quality of life.
  • Allowing medically-retired service members and their families to maintain the active duty family TRICARE benefit for a transition period of three years following the date of medical retirement, comparable to the benefit for surviving spouses.
  • Allowing already-enrolled family members in ECHO to remain eligible for one year following the service member’s retirement from the military.
  • Proposing a variety of GAO reports to evaluate and examine current benefits.
  • Ensuring each of the Services maintaining a robust Exceptional Family Member Program.