March 2022 Convening

Posted on: March 24, 2022  |  Posted in: Community Blog

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Welcome to the resource page for the San Diego Military Family Collaborative (SDMFC) Monthly Convening using Zoom for Friday, March 25th, 2022! This convening topic is focused on Being a Bridge to the ¨Exceptional Family Member Program.¨ 

Please sign in via our Attendance Sheet by clicking HERE


  • Bridget Ferrer, TRICARE Beneficiary Educator – Health Net Federal Services – TRICARE-West ( Bridget Ferrer currently serves as a Beneficiary Educator, Optimization & Integration Management for Health Net Federal Services, LLC (HNFS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Centene Corporation. In her current role, Ms. Ferrer facilitates TRICARE Health Plan education to members of the Armed Forces, including Active Duty Service Members, National Guard and Reserve Components, Retirees, and eligible family members in Southern California. She also provides TRICARE program educational support to the MTF staff attached to Naval Medical Center San Diego and clinics. As the daughter of a 38-year career Marine, and the spouse of a retired Navy Submariner, Ms. Ferrer’s passion is helping military members and their families. A native of San Diego, California, she has lived all over the United States in support of her family’s military service. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication from California State University, Northridge. During her husband’s active duty career, she volunteered for numerous military-related organizations and was part of the active-duty spouse team who developed and wrote e the curriculum for the Navy COMPASS program.
  • Gina Gonzalez, Training, Education & Outreach Specialist – Marine & Family Programs Division – EFMP ( Gina Gonzalez is the Training, Education and Outreach Specialist for the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) Camp Pendleton. She has been with the EFMP for 5 years. She completed her education at Cal State San Marcos with a degree in Business. She has been working with Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS), Family Care Branch for 9 years. Gina began as a caregiver for one of the Child Development Centers on Camp Pendleton, then had the opportunity to move into administrative work and use more of her educational background. She later transitioned into the EFMP where she had the opportunity to work with various support services both on and off military bases and has become well versed with the support needs that many families face when caring for their family members. As a Training-Education & Outreach (TEO) Specialist, Gina aims to bridge the gap between the support services and family members’ needs by educating Military families on what EFMP is and how the program is here to support.
  • Kimberly Hearn, Fleet and Family Support Center NBPL Site Director/Exceptional Family Member Program Installation Program Manager (  Kimberly has served the military community for more than 20 years as a Military Spouse, Parent of Special Needs Children (EFMs), Work and Family Life Consultant, Accredited Financial Counselor, Work and Family Life Supervisor, and Site Director. She started with FFSC as a volunteer in 2012 working with Child and Toddler Outreach, and then transition into the WFL Consultant in the Family Life Program in 2013. After 6 months with FFSC, she moved over to the PFM team where she worked closely with transition support and families of special needs. In 2015, Kimberly was promoted to WFL Program Supervisor for the PFM program and a short time later was given the EFM program. Kimberly leads a team of 14 wonderful EFMP Case Liaisons at NBSD, NBC, and NBPL where she coordinates training and outreach for the metro San Diego, and trains EFMP Case Liaison in Navy Region Southwest.  
  • Marie Lopez Stewart, Sr. Social Service Program Director, YMCA CRS ( Marie Lopez Stewart has been a Sr. Program Director for the YMCA of San Diego for over 25 years.  In the past 14 years, Marie has been able to manage the Navy EFMP Respite Care for San Diego County and parts of Riverside County.  Throughout her years of overseeing the Respite Program, she has helped over 1500 families receive 40 hours of respite care per month. She also recruited over 500 Providers as Independent Contractors to help provide respite care to families in their homes.
  • Michelle Norman, Founder & Executive Director – Partners in PROMISE ( Michelle Norman is the Executive Director and Founder of Partners in PROMISE (PIP), a nonprofit organization focused on Protecting the Rights of Military Children in Special Education (PROMISE) by elevating military family member stories to educate and advise military service organizations, Department of Defense and public officials. Michelle is a Navy spouse of over 25 years and mother of an 18-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy and 21 other disabilities. After years of successfully advocating to ensure her daughter receives the minimum education required by law, the Virginia Beach resident became a passionate advocate for all military children with special needs and their families. Her efforts have been recognized recently with the 2022 Military Officers Association of America’s Changemaker Award, the 2021 William & Mary Law Institute of Special Education Advocacy (ISEA) Kayla Bower Advocacy Award, and the 2020 Heroes at Home Military Spouse of the Year for Hampton Roads.


Exceptional Family Member Program for All Ages (gathered from “Military Community and Family Policy Fact Sheet”):

Exceptional Family Member Program for All Ages

  • Background
    The Office of Community Support for Military Families with Special Needs is focused on improving support for military families requiring medical or educational consideration through the development of policies and oversight of the Exceptional Family Member Program. Program policies and activities are designed to assist families with children and adults requiring individualized care for special medical or educational needs.
  • Highlights
    • A family member with special needs is a:
    • Spouse, child or incapacitated adult, who, regardless of age, has special medical needs and requires medical care for a chronic condition, receives ongoing services from a medical specialist or has significant behavioral health concerns
    • Child (birth through age 21) with special education needs who is eligible for, or receives, either early intervention services through an individualized family service plan, or special education services through an Individualized Education Program
    • Enrollment in the program is mandatory for family members who have identified special medical or educational needs. This ensures that the family member’s needs are considered during the assignment process.


(Following the event date)



For your convenience, below you will find resources and relevant links that will be referred to in this Convening. 

SDMFC Materials



Helpful Articles to Review:


  • Currently, sponsors who wish to have their incapacitated dependents remain eligible for benefits, are required to submit a complete financial dependency redetermination package (DD Form 137-5) every 4 years, to their uniformed service’s DEERS/RAPIDS Project Office and or the supporting finance office. For more information, please visit:




  • Feel Good Fridays: Currently on Pause
  • MTSE Action Team Meeting: April 14th, 2022 from 10:00am-11:00am (contact Danny)
  • WIWMPK Virtual Event: April 19th, 2022 from 5:30pm-6:0pm
  • MTSE Virtual Workshop: April 21st, 2022 from 10:00am-12:00pm (registration required)
  • WIWMPK Action Team Meeting: April 28th, 2022 from 12:30pm-1:30pm (confirm with Stacy Chiles- 
  • SDMFC Members-Only Training: June 2022; Members welcome to contact Danny for recording of previous workshop

*SDMFC will be using Zoom to convene these virtual meetings for the time being, where you can join us through the comfort of your webcam or phone. In order to fully participate in these virtual meetings, SDMFC recommends using a smartphone or computer to access Zoom. You are also able to participate by calling in, but will not be able to access the online materials and activities that will be presented. To utilize Zoom, you will need to do the following:

  • Call in using your phone or join using a Zoom Account on your smartphone or computer(to be able to fully participate in activities we recommend using a computer) Sign-Up for a free account using your work email: Tune in to SDMFC’s Facebook page for the Zoom link or copy from below!


If you require assistance please do not hesitate to contact us! To stay most updated on SDMFC news, please review the SDMFC Facebook page We will continue to share resources for the community at large including information on resources individuals can access online as well as fun family activities you may consider enjoying together.