Special Needs – Resources

Special Needs – Resources

Special Care Organizational Record for Children with Special Health Care Needs

There are many resources to help military families with special needs. But where do you start? Here are some top resources, services and programs.

The Exceptional Family Member Program

A first step is to know what resources and services are available. Then you can learn how to access them. The Exceptional Family Member Program can help you with this. You can find the nearest EFMP installation office and get assistance with:

  • Identifying and enrolling your family member.

  • Learning what services are available at your present or new duty station.

  • Getting support with information, referrals and non-clinical case management to access services.

Here is the newest tool that helps families find information tailored to their situation….

EFMP & Me – a new online tool for military families.

The Department of Defense Office of Special Needs created this new online tool, EFMP & Me, to help you find the resources and information you need, when you need it. Its goal is to make life less stressful for your military family with special needs. EFMP & Me gives you a 24/7 connection to personalized, up-to-date information and resources. You can learn how to enroll in EFMP and prepare for a PCS or deployment. You can learn to manage changes in education or medical needs and adjust to new life situations. EFMP & Me is here to provide assistance as you become your own best advocate. Get started today with EFMP & Me.

Check out these available directories, toolkits and resources:

Military OneSource special needs consultants

Military OneSource provides access to special needs consultants familiar with military life. A consultant can work with you to assess your family’s needs. They can also answer your questions about education, finances, support groups and more. Ask them about the following:

Call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or live chat any time to schedule a specialty consultation. You can meet by phone or video.

Resources for special education and early intervention plans

Knowing that your child with special needs has a great start in life is important to you and your family.

The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education, offers the Parent Center Hub. This is also known as the Center for Parent Information and Resources. They provide collections of links for infants, toddlers and school-age children:

  • Resources for Early Intervention Services for infants and toddlers. Early intervention services can help children with disabilities or delays. Services help children learn many key skills and catch up in their development.

  • Resources for school-age children with special needs. Find webinars, articles and other resources for families connecting you with K-12 topics such as free, virtual summer camps and back-to-school planning. Learn more about individualized education plans, classroom accommodations, parent involvement, effective practices and much more.

  • States also have Parent Training and Information Centers to help you with special needs, early intervention and school services. They also help with therapy, local policies and Community Parent Resource Centers. An interactive map links you with the centers near you.

Family-to-Family Health Information Centers

Get support in your community from other families. Learn from firsthand experience navigating the health care maze. Family-to-Family Health Information Centers in each state are staffed by health care professionals and family members of people with special health care needs. These nonprofit centers can help you:

  • Learn about eligibility for programs.

  • Write a health care plan for teachers and therapists.

  • Locate resources to pay for medications.

  • Find support groups and more.

Child care options for special needs families

Some children may require more than routine or basic care, such as children with, or at-risk of disabilities or with chronic illnesses. Also, children with physical, developmental, behavioral or emotional conditions. Military child care programs work with parents and guardians to make reasonable accommodations, which consider the needs of the child and the child care environment. They also consider staffing and training requirements, and the resources available to the program.

MilitaryChildCare.com is a Department of Defense website that can help you find and request military-operated or military-subsidized child care. It can help you find care anywhere in the world. Work directly with your local program to determine reasonable accommodations for your child. You will use a process that includes an Inclusion Action Team. You are a member of the IAT for your child and are included in the decision-making process. Programs welcome the opportunity to discuss your family’s needs throughout your search process. Contact your local program for more information about the IAT. You can also learn about the evaluation process for reasonable accommodations.

If child care is not available on your installation, you may be eligible to receive fee assistance. To find out if you are eligible, contact Child Care Aware of America to learn more about Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood, or MCCYN.


Commissary and Exchange – Resources

Most service members know about the cost savings available when shopping at the commissary or military exchange. And the perks include more than just savings. Here are some of the other resources available to service members through the commissary and exchange.

Commissary and exchange resources

The commissary and exchange savings are nice. And getting the 30 percent discount is just the beginning. Here are a few of the other resources available:

  • Click2Go: an online shopping and curbside pick-up service providing you greater access to your commissary benefit anytime or anywhere
  • Sales Flyer: a list of what’s on sale for the week
  • Commissary Connection: a newsletter with updates for your local commissary and the latest commissary news, promotions and events
  • Coupon Links: links to all kinds of coupons on different sites, such as MyMilitarySavings.com
  • Healthy Recipes: recipes for your meal planning or last-minute meals
  • Sales and Events: special offers and promotions

Other resources include:

  • Shop safely online: You can shop 24/7 through secure websites, and get free shipping on purchases over $49 or for items purchased with your Military STAR® credit card.
  • Pay and return easily: Your exchange accepts all major credit cards, your Military STAR® card or personal checks (with an ID). Most exchanges have generous return policies.
  • Get all your uniform needs: Everything you need for your uniform is at your exchange store.
  • Go Green: An initiative by the Defense Commissary Agency to cut energy costs and protect the environment, the commissary builds energy-efficient stores and recycles whenever possible.

Guard/Reserve on-site sales option

For National Guard or reserve service members who live far from an installation, the Defense Commissary Agency created the commissary on-site sales option. This is how it works:

  • A host commissary coordinates with a National Guard or Reserve Component unit of at least 150 local members for an on-site sale.
  • The team sets the sale’s location, date and the items to be on sale.
  • The on-site sale targets National Guard and reserve service members, and any authorized personnel can enjoy the sale – and the extra savings.
  • Members get the same price commissary shoppers receive and can reap 30 percent or more in savings compared with civilian grocery store shoppers.

The Status of Forces Agreement

When you spend time in another country as a service member, the SOFA between the United States and your host country protects your legal status as military personnel in another nation. Luckily for active-duty service members, your privilege to shop in military stores is almost always covered under the SOFA.


As a military member, you have several resources available to support your health – from nutrition courses and fitness initiatives to military family programs and wellness centers. Discover and explore different tools that can help make healthy living easier for you and your family. While Military OneSource does not provide direct health care services, it does offer non-medical counseling and information about health care services and resources.

Healthy Base Initiative

Since 2013, the Healthy Base Initiative — part of the overarching Operation Live Well program — has brought healthy living initiatives to service members and their families at 14 pilot installations. As a result, the initiative has several helpful tools and resources to help you live a healthy life, including:

  • Human Performance Resource Center: The center’s human performance optimization website is for U.S. warfighters, their families and those who support them. The goal is total force fitness: warfighters optimized to carry out their mission as safely and effectively as possible.
  • The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition: The president’s council engages, educates, and empowers all Americans to adopt healthy lifestyles, including regular physical activity and good nutrition.

Nutrition resources

Good health begins with proper nutrition. The following tools and programs can help you eat right, whether you are at home or at a dining facility.

  • Better-for-You: This initiative provides a quick look at the calories of menu items for customers in a for-profit food environment.
  • Farmer’s Market: Markets give service and family members the much healthier option of acquiring locally grown produce.
  • Go for Green®: Service members have quick access to the nutritional value of menu offerings and food products in the installation dining facility.
  • Menu Renovation: This program enhances the nutritional profile of food offerings at military dining facilities and snack bar outlets.
  • Commissary Initiative: The initiative promotes the purchase and intake of fruits and vegetables by service and family members.
  • Mission Nutrition: This standardized, science-based, two-day, 16-hour course focuses on improving nutritional knowledge and awareness.

Fitness resources

Among the fitness resources available to service members and their families are these:

  • 24-Hour Fitness: This program offers an opportunity to work out for people who are unable to use standard facilities. Satellite fitness centers are located on installation with limited equipment and are open 24/7 with common access card accessibility.
  • Fitness On Request: This initiative offers a wide array of fitness class options and the ability to exercise in a group setting at any time.
  • Bike Share: This program provides specially-marked bicycles in convenient locations around the installation for service members and personnel to use for transportation or recreation.
  • StairWELL to Health: This program offers information and opportunities for incorporating physical activity into daily routines.
  • High-Intensity Tactical Training and Aquatic Maximum Power Intensive Training: Such training improves combat readiness while reducing the likelihood of injury through physical fitness training and nutritional guidelines.
  • Adult Sports Program: This intramural sports program provides fun, team-oriented recreational fitness opportunities to keep service members in shape.

Family health resources

Service members can take advantage of a variety of resources that support a healthy family life, tools that help teach youth good nutrition and the importance of exercise. Some of them include:

  • Alliance for a Healthier Generation: This program empowers kids to develop lifelong, healthy habits.
  • Share our Strength: This initiative offers instruction that encourages families to purchase and prepare healthier food on a budget through cooking classes and grocery store tours.
  • Operation Kid Fit: This initiative is a military-adapted, evidence-based child obesity program.
  • 5210 Healthy Military Children campaign: This campaign encourages kids to eat more fruits and vegetables and reduce sugary beverages while getting more physical activity and reducing screen time.
  • Baby Hot Wheels: This free circuit-training program provides an opportunity for new parents who can get in shape while meeting others.

Wellness resources

  • Community Resource Guide: This initiative links the social services and health and wellness services available both on the installation and within the community in a web-based format.
  • Army Wellness Centers: These centers provide prevention programs and services that promote healthy lifestyles for the well-being of service and family members.
  • Evaluating the Impact of a Dietitian: Registered dietitians stationed on the installation provide a range of services to support the nutrition and overall health of service members and their families.
  • 5210 Healthy Military Children Campaign: This campaign encourages kids to eat more fruits and vegetables and reduce sugary beverages while getting more physical activity and reducing screen time.

Online health and wellness initiatives

Health services are available to military members in a variety of forms. Get motivated by connecting with other people who have similar goals and seek out new methods for helping yourself stay on the path toward a healthy lifestyle with these online initiatives.

  • The Human Performance Resource Center is a Department of Defense initiative that helps members of the military, their families and caretakers to maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle. The online center offers advice on nutrition, dietary supplements, physical conditioning and mental fitness.
  • TRICARE provides resources to help you pursue a healthy lifestyle, such as Making Healthy Changes for Life.
  • Operation Live Well is a Department of Defense initiative to improve the health and wellness of the entire defense community. It provides service members with a set of resources that they can use to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers the Start Simple with MyPlate app, a simple and easy-to-use mobile app that allows you to set daily food goals, track your progress in real time, earn badges and celebrate your success as you learn to develop healthy eating habits.

MWR Digital Library health resources

Another great place to turn to support your health is the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library, which offers a variety of materials for those seeking information on wellness. Through the library, users can:

  • Access medical journals, magazines, reference works and multimedia covering a range of health-related issues.
  • Find journals and other materials with information on everything from brain health to psychology to alternative medicine.
  • Improve their brain health with clinically proven personalized brain training exercises.


You’ll find there are numerous programs, resources and services available to help you pursue education and find employment – both governmental agencies and nongovernmental organizations. Here are some of the major resources.

Education resources and tools for service members

Voluntary Education Program: The Department of Defense off-duty Voluntary Education Program is one of the largest continuing education programs in the world, with 350 installation education centers worldwide.

Postsecondary Education Complaint System: If you or your family member receive tuition assistance or are a My Career Advancement Account Scholarship recipient, you are encouraged to submit your feedback through this system.

College Navigator: This tool from the National Center for Education Statistics can help you choose the right school with information about more than 7,000 institutions. Compare tuition, financial aid statistics, credit transfer and more.

TA DECIDE: Make informed decisions about your education. Compare schools, tuition and fees, programs, assistance available and more with the TA DECIDE tool from the Department of Defense.

Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support, or DANTES: Use this online resource to pursue your educational goals and earn degrees or certifications. DANTES helps you plan examinations, find educational institutions and connects you with education counselors.

Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium: This network of more than 1,900 universities and colleges provides opportunities for service members, veterans and family members. Explore member institutions, campus programs, scholarships and more.

Department of Veterans Affairs education resources: The VA website connects you to information about education, the GI Bill® and job training programs for service members and veterans. Learn more at explore.va.gov.

Student Aid on the Web: This U.S. government website provides information and resources for college students and their families to help them choose the right college, apply for financial aid and repay student loans.

The Department of Education website provides information for students, parents, teachers and administrators, including links related to student aid, grants and scholarships.

GI Bill® Comparison Tool helps you compare VA-approved institutions and review other information to choose the right school. It’s also helpful for applying GI Bill benefits to an on-the-job training program.

Career Path DECIDE: Service members and veterans can use this online tool to find best-fit careers based on their military occupation, education level and prior experience, as well as the required credentials or degrees.

Military OneSource provides education consultants who can assist you with questions about financial aid, scholarships, tutoring and college information. Call 800-342-9647. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options. Find:

  • Contact information for military-friendly schools and institutions that allow you to transfer previous college credits
  • Getting your credentials converted and diplomas translated to meet state- or country-specific requirements
  • Profiles on specific colleges and their credentials

Employment resources and tools for service members

Department of Defense Transition Assistance Program: The place to start for employment planning and career readiness. The website connects you to your service branch, as well as resources and tools.

Find your nearest Transition Assistance Program. Transition Assistance offices are on most military installations in the United States and overseas. Each service branch has its own program:

The Department of Veterans Affairs: The VA offers numerous employment resources to help veterans find civilian jobs. Resources include career exploration and counseling, support, connections to job fairs, job searches, vocational and employment counseling and job-seeking tools.

Find a Job: The VA and the Department of Labor have teamed up to offer numerous online resources for veterans and military spouses seeking employment. Get tools, one-on-one assistance, training and more.

Veterans.gov: Explore job opportunities in industries, including agriculture, energy, homeland security and others. Look for jobs by state and region.

The Veterans’ Employment and Training Service: The VETS website from the Department of Labor has comprehensive career and employment assistance for veterans and their families.

Apprenticeship USA from the Department of Labor helps service members and veterans find high-skill, well-paying jobs in Registered Apprenticeship.

Feds Hire Vets: The federal government-wide employment website provides federal employment information for veterans, transitioning service members, their families and federal hiring officials.

CareerOneStop: This Department of Labor website can connect you with programs, including Veterans ReEmployment or My Next Move for Veterans. Also, explore careers, find benefits information and locate your nearest American Job Center.

USAJOBS: The federal government’s employment-related website provides helpful links for veterans seeking federal jobs. As the largest federal employer of veterans, the Department of Defense also offers help with connecting veterans with a Department of Defense civil service job.

Troops to Teachers: This program, a partnership between the departments of Defense and Education, assists transitioning service members and veterans in beginning new careers as K-12 school teachers.

The Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program provides assistive technology and accommodations to support individuals with disabilities and wounded, ill and injured service members throughout the federal government in accessing information and communication technology, which can help you with your job search.

Military OneSource: Explore our Employment section for valuable tips about job hunting, career exploration and programs. To learn more about specific benefits, visit our Education and Employment Benefits page.

Additional resources for service members

Searching for a job can be stressful, explore these additional resources to help support you mentally during the process.

InTransition provides free, confidential coaching and assistance to service members, veterans and retirees who may need access to mental health care during times of transition, such as preparing to leave military service.

Moving Forward is a free, online educational and life-coaching program that teaches problem-solving skills to help you better handle life’s challenges. It is designed to be especially helpful for veterans, service members and their families.

Spouse – Resources

As a spouse, you manage the unique challenges of military life. You may take on new roles. You adapt to new schedules. Let Department of Defense resources help you and your family thrive.

The Military Family Readiness System

You may choose to live on or off the installation. Either way, your Military Family Readiness System is your go-to source for support. It’s a network of programs and services. It has resources to help you navigate. Use it to find moving and relocation help and new-parent support. Get financial fitness and career counseling.

Contact your Military and Family Support Center for support and assistance.

Helpful Programs

Helpful Tools

  • Plan My Move lets you create custom checklists and guides you through tasks.
  • Plan My Deployment helps you prepare for deployment. It breaks down each phase. It provides planning tools and helpful tips.
  • MilitaryChildCare.com is a website the Department of Defense sponsors. Use it to find military-owned or approved child care anywhere in the world Fee assistance is available for those who qualify.
  • Homes.mil connects service members and their families with community housing rental listings located near military bases.
  • EFMP&Me is a digital tool for families with special needs. It provides EFMP information 24/7 for busy military parents. Families can learn about support services, preparing for a move or deployment, education or medical needs, and adjusting to new life situations.

Spouse Community Connections

Want to hear from other spouses? Turn to the Military OneSource Blog Brigade. Military spouses write it for military spouses. It has advice on deployment, parenting and relationships, moving, careers and more.

Follow social media for military spouses on:

Helpful articles

Military OneSource is a great resource for information and services. It is available 24/7 anywhere in the world. Access it online or by phone. Call 800-342-9647, or use OCONUS dialing options.

Here are some articles on popular topics.

Let the Department of Defense help you find the resources you need to navigate military life.


You’re learning to navigate the new world of the military, and that takes knowledge and resilience. At Military OneSource, we’re here to support your military career with the tools you need to be a successful member of the armed forces.

Websites and mobile tools

Through Military OneSource, you also have access to these online training and mobile solutions:

  • Basic Pay: See DoD pay tables for active-duty service members.
  • myPay: Log in to manage your pay information, leave and earning statements, and W-2s.
  • CoachHub: Kick stress to the curb with a personal online coach. Partner with a coach to manage your stress, set goals and keep them on track with online support.
  • Love Every Day: Connect in a fun and meaningful way with your partner every day for 21 days to rekindle and strengthen your relationship.
  • MoodHacker: It’s a mobile, self-management tool that helps you track, understand and improve your mood.
  • Plan My Move: Go to Plan My Move, enter your basic infomration and get a three-month, customizable checklist to help you plan and track your military move.
  • MilitaryINSTALLATIONS: Your official Department of Defense source for installation and state resources available to active duty, guard and reserve service and family members.
  • Plan My Deployment: This website can take some of the stress out of deployment or mobilization, through access to information and resources, as well as a task list for those preparing for a deployment.

Recreation and travel

Your Morale, Welfare and Recreation program offers lots of ways to relax, have fun and connect with others.

Fitness, aquatics and sports programs – Hit the gym, fine-tune your best downward dog yoga pose or swim laps at the pool. Or release some of your competitive energy and represent your unit or service branch in an organized sport. If you aren’t near an installation gym, no worries – get your sweat on at any of the more than 3,000 YMCAs and private fitness facilities that offer military memberships to those who are eligible.

Boating programs, bowling centers, golf courses, stables and special interest recreation programs – Now’s the time to try something new. Get a great deal on a boat rental, horseback riding or another special interest program like scuba diving or flying. Get a group of friends together for a night of bowling or a round of golf – typically at a lower cost than similar activities in the civilian community.

Individual skills development programs – Get in touch with your creative side with arts and crafts, check out a program at a performing arts center, or learn some handy automotive skills and get down and dirty while working on your car.

Libraries – Check out a best-seller, read a magazine article or study for an upcoming test with library resources. Visit your installation library or log in to your Military OneSource account to access the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library from anywhere in the world. Download select titles to your smartphone or tablet, get an audiobook for your next road trip or brush up on your math skills.

Information, Tickets and Travel –Information, Tickets and Travel is a travel resource designed to help you access all sorts of fun opportunities. Get tickets to a movie or an amusement park at a reduced rate or ask an Information, Tickets and Travel employee for help planning your next vacation, from airfare to resort reservations. Use your discounts to see sporting events or go to a concert you’ve been anxious to see – all without breaking the bank.

Recreational lodging – Break out the selfie stick because recreational lodging opportunities will have you snapping a lot of pictures on your next vacation. Rent a beach cabana, find the perfect ski chalet or take your family members camping – all at significant savings.

Outdoor recreation programs – Even if you don’t consider yourself the outdoorsy type, there’s so much you can try. Whether it’s mountain biking, paintballing or hunting, your Morale, Welfare and Recreation program can help you get out there. Rent a tent and sleep under the stars, or rent a few coolers, tables and chairs and host a backyard BBQ (equipment rental varies by location). If there’s not an installation near you, consider checking out the no-cost annual pass offered by the National Park Service that provides you with access to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Yosemite, anyone?

Recreation centers – Get your video game fix with a tournament against your friends, watch the big game with good company or just take advantage of free Wi-Fi at your local rec center.

Single service member programs – Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs offer a variety of single service member programs that support singles ages 18 to 25 with sports, trips and tours, concerts, holiday and special event activities and much more.

For more information about your local Morale, Welfare and Recreation program, visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS.


Military families can tap into terrific programs and services – from extensive digital libraries to teen camps to resources that make moves easier. Take a look at these top resources for helping your military kids grow strong, make friends and enjoy the adventure side of military life.

Military Teen Adventure Camps: With this program from the Department of Defense, teens ages 14 to 18 can enjoy some amazing adventure camps held in partnership with universities around the country.

  • Camps include high-energy, high-experience excursions like sailing, kayaking, caving and survival skills.
  • Camps are offered in the summer and winter at little to no cost.
  • Leadership and resiliency events are also offered.

Deployment support camps and resources

Operation Purple camps give military children a safe place to learn to cope with the emotions and reality of deployment. Operation Purple campers get to take a break from the stressors leading up to, during or following deployment by spending a fun-filled week with other military kids in the same situation.

A variety of camps may be available near you, including camps specifically for military teens or retreats for the entire family. For availability and more information, visit the National Military Family Association website.

Meanwhile, Military Kids Connect® offers a safe place online where military kids of all age groups can share experiences and talk about what it’s like to be in a military family. You’ll find:

To learn more, visit our page on Military Kids Connect.

Installation Youth Centers

Installation Youth Centers offer dynamic programs for youth ages 5 through 18 years in 300 facilities worldwide. Be prepared for a new experience, as each youth center varies. Facilities can offer:

  • Computer labs and game rooms
  • Special field trips
  • Gymnasiums and fitness rooms
  • Music rooms
  • Volunteer and employment listings

All programs are certified by the Department of Defense and accredited by a national accrediting body. To find a program on your installation, visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS and look for Youth Programs/Centers.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America Military Partnership

Since 1991, the military services have worked it so kids from 6 to 18 can participate in Boys & Girls Clubs of America, which offer enriching, active and entertaining programs in youth centers and clubs around the country.

  • On installation: Youth centers on installations worldwide are affiliated with the Boys & Girls Clubs. They offer many of the same programs as traditional clubs.
  • Off installation: The collaboration allows active-duty, National Guard and reserve children to attend a local Boys & Girls Club free. Check out Mission Youth Outreach for more information.

All Boys & Girls Clubs are staffed by trained professionals. For more information, call 800-854-CLUB (2582).

4-H Military Partnership

Military youth can join 4-H clubs in their community, and they can also participate in summer camps around the country. Visit the 4-H Military Partnerships website to learn more.

Mentoring programs

A mentor is an adult your child trusts, admires and respects who provides informal support and guidance and is actively involved in your child’s life. A mentor is not a babysitter, therapist or substitute parent. For mentorship programs, visit:

Do your homework. Make sure the program conducts background checks, requires training and ask to see licenses.

Children and youth behavioral military and family life

Child and youth behavioral military and family life counselors understand the issues military children face and can provide personalized support. The programs and services offered vary from one installation to another, so it’s best to check with your installation’s youth programs/centers directly to discover the options available.

Call or visit Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 if you have questions about resources to enhance your family’s life. We are here for you 24/7.