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The Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 1315.19, Authorizing Special Needs Family Members Travel Overseas at Government Expense
Signed by the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness

The Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) is a military personnel system concerned with authorizing family member travel to overseas locations at government expense when the family member has a special need (either medical or educational).

The body of the Instruction provides guidance on the process and assigns responsibilities. It is stated here that the Instruction applies to active duty service members, civilian employees, and to their family members.

Enclosure 1 provides the references for the policy.

Enclosure 2 defines the terms used in the Instruction.

Enclosure 3 establishes the standards for authorizing special needs family members travel overseas at government expense:

  • Family member travel at government expense may be denied when the medical services necessary to meet the special medical needs are unavailable in the overseas location.  The military medical system at the gaining command determines availability of services based on acceptable U.S. health care standards, and recommends to the personnel command whether the family member should be approved for travel to the overseas location.  
  • Active duty Service members may not be denied an essential (as defined by the military personnel assignment system) overseas duty assignment solely because they have children who are or may be eligible for early intervention services or special education services. A representative of the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) reviews the appropriate records of children who have special education needs.  DoDEA recommends to the personnel command whether the family should be approved for travel to a particular overseas location.  DoDEA bases the recommendations on the levels of support that should be available in each community. 

    The Directory identifies the levels of support in OCONUS communities by the services that are available. Additionally, the Directory identifies specific communities that have specialized services for children with more severe or low incidence disabilities. These programs serve children with deafness, blindness, emotional disturbance, autism spectrum disorder or pervasive developmental disorder.

The DoD Directory of Early Intervention, Special Education and Related Services in OCONUS Communities identifies all overseas locations with a level of special education support. 

  • DoD civilian employees are selected for positions outside the United States based on job requirements and merit factors under 5 U.S.C. 2302.  

The policy requires civilian employees to participate in the screening and identification process for purposes of advising them only on the availability of medical and/or educational services overseas. Civilian employees cannot be denied an overseas position, nor can their family members be denied travel at government expense because they have a special medical or educational need.

Enclosure 4 establishes standard criteria for identifying family members with special needs. 

  • Family member has special medical needs (e.g., chronic medical condition, mental health diagnosis, attention deficit disorder, and/or requires adaptive equipment, requires assistive technology or requires environmental/ architectural considerations)
  • Family member under the age of 21 has or requires early intervention services or special education.

Enclosure 5 establishes standard procedures for processing service members' families with special needs.

Enclosure 6 establishes the procedures for processing a civilian employee for an overseas assignment.

Take time to read the Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 1315.19, Authorizing Special Needs Family Members Travel Overseas at Government Expense and educate all personnel responsible for implementation and compliance with the instruction.

The forms referenced in the Instruction:


A Service member who fails or refuses to provide the information necessary to enroll in the EFMP, or who knowingly provides false information, may be subject to disciplinary action for offenses under Article 92 (failure to obey a lawful order or regulation or dereliction of duty) or Article 107 (false official statement), in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). In addition to UCMJ disciplinary action, the service member may also be subject to administrative sanctions, to include denial of command sponsorship.

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