Office of Work-Life Programs -
Special Needs Program
Who is Eligible for this Program?
The special needs program is a mandatory enrollment program
for all active duty and selected reserve members on orders for 181 days or
more who have dependent family members diagnosed with medical,
psychological, physical, or educational special needs.
Information and referral to special
needs resources is available for retired Coast Guard members and current
civilian employees of the Coast Guard however retirees and civilians are not
eligible for enrollment in the program.
Purpose of Program
The objective of the program is to identify and support the
special needs of a Coast Guard family and allow the active duty member
to be mission ready. The Special Needs Program, working in concert with
other military and civilian agencies, provides a comprehensive,
coordinated, multidisciplinary approach to community support, housing,
medical, educational, and personnel services for the Coast Guard
families with special needs. By following specific procedures and
guidelines, efforts will be made to ensure that sponsors with family
members who have special needs are assigned to duty stations where
resources are available to support their needs with access to, and
availability of, medical, educational, and community services.
Enrollment in the Special Needs Program does not preclude members from
sea duty, normal sea/shore rotations, unaccompanied assignments,
standing watches, or performing normally assigned duties.
Categories of Special Needs and Criteria for
Enrollment in the Special Needs Program
The following definitions apply to the Special Needs Program:
Medical Special Needs:
- Medical conditions which would limit the worldwide assignment ability
of active duty members
(such as autism, high-risk newborns, sickle cell disease,
insulin-dependent diabetes, human
- Medical conditions that require monitoring on a periodic basis due to
the potential of limiting
members’ worldwide assignment (such as remission of cancer within the
last 5 years).
- Potentially life-threatening medical conditions (such as high risk
- Diagnosis of asthma or other respiratory-related diagnosis with
chronic recurring wheezing which meets one of the following criteria:
- Scheduled use of inhaled and anti-inflammatory agents and/or
- History of emergency room use or clinic visits for acute asthma
exacerbations within the last year.
- History of one or more hospitalizations for asthma within the past 5
- History of intensive care admissions for asthma within the past 5
Psychological Special Needs:
- Current and chronic (duration of 6 months or
longer) mental health condition (such as bipolar disorder, major
depressive disorder, substance addiction, and/or personality disorders
Inpatient, or intensive outpatient mental health services within the
last 5 years (such as day treatment program, counseling provided at
frequency greater than 1 time per week, etc).
(greater than one visit monthly for more than 6 months) mental health
services required at the present time (consisting of medical care from
any provider, including a primary health care provider).
- Diagnosis of attention deficit disorder and/or attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder that meets one of the following criteria:
- Family member has any additional psychological diagnosis.
- Family member requires multiple medications, psycho-pharmaceuticals
(other than stimulants) or does not respond to normal doses of
- Family member requires management and treatment by mental health
provider (for example, psychiatrist, psychologist, and/or social
- Family member requires a mental health specialty consultant, other
than a family practice physician or general medical officer, more than
twice a year on a chronic basis.
- Family member requires modification of the educational curriculum or
the use of behavioral management staff.
Physical Special Needs
- Family member requires adaptive equipment for 6
months or longer (such as an apnea home monitor, home nebulizer,
wheelchair, splints, orthotics, hearing aids, home oxygen therapy, home
- Family member requires environmental and/or
architectural considerations (such as limited number of steps,
wheelchair accessibility and/or housing modifications, and air
- Family member requires assistive technology devices (such as
communication devices) or services
Educational Special Needs:
- Child (birth through 2 years of age) has or
requires an individualized family service plan (IFSP)
- Child (3 through 21 years of age) has or
requires an individualized education plan (IEP).
all enrollments and enrollment updates processed after 1 October 2011, DD
Form 2792 (for medical, psychological, and physical conditions) and DD Form
2792-1 (for educational special needs) shall be completed by the family
members’ medical provider or school personnel (respectively) and submitted
by the active duty member to the servicing Health, Safety, and Work Life
(HSWL) Family Resource Specialist (FRS). No additional medical documentation
will be required.
Special Needs Resources Available through the Work-Life Programs
The FRS will forward the DD Form 2792 and 2792-1 to the cognizant Coast
Guard Senior Medical Executive (SME) for verification of eligibility for
enrollment. As warranted, the FRS will verify educational eligibility for
enrollment by reviewing child’s IEP or IFSP. The FRS will complete the
enrollment process by entering appropriate information in the Direct Access.
- Assistance with enrollment in the Special Needs
- Assignment coordination.
- Non-medical case management.
- Information and referral to military and community resources.
- Advocacy on behalf of the Coast Guard families with special needs.
Discussions between a person enrolled in the Special Needs Program and the
regional Work-Life FRS are confidential, with the exception of
notification to the member's command of his/her enrollment in the
Special Needs Program.
The FRS will manage the active duty member’s special needs record and
provide non-medical case management. The information contained in the
special needs case file is not part of the member's service record.
Access to the special needs record is strictly limited to the HSWL
Regional Practice Manager, FRS, HSWL Service Center personnel conducting
quality assurance inspections, and HQ's Special Needs Program Manager.
Related Program Information
- Active duty members are required to update their
enrollment information (one for each family member) every three years,
or sooner, if the special needs condition changed significantly.
- Disenrollment from the special needs program shall occur when:
- Medical, psychological, physical, or educational special need is
resolved, as validated by a healthcare provider or school official.
- Dependent child is no longer the member’s dependent, or does not
reside with the service member which would affect his/her availability
for worldwide assignment.
- Divorce, loss of custody, or death of the family member with special
needs affect special needs status.
Humanitarian Assignments (HUMS) Policy, COMDTINST
Absences, Chapter 1.B.11
- Information and referral to special needs services is available for
retirees and civilian employees of the Coast Guard.
The following references provide details of the Coast Guard Special Needs Program:
The following web sites provide information related to the
Special Needs Program:
- AIRS - Alliance of Information and Referral Systems
- The Arc - Leading advocate for all people with intellectual and
developmental disabilities and their families and the premier provider
of the supports and services people want and need.
- Alzheimer’s Association - Facts, support, research on Alzheimer’s
- Autism Society - improves the lives of all affected by autism through
education, advocacy, services, research and
- CARE.com - Provides access to babysitters, nannies, child care, and
senior home care
- CGMA - Coast Guard Mutual Assistance provides respite care grant for
qualifying Coast Guard families with special needs
- Exceptional Parent Magazine - A resource for special needs community
- Juvenile Diabetes Association - Facts, support, treatment, research on
- National Cancer Society - Learn about cancer; find support and
- STOMP - Specialized Training of Military Parents, a federally funded
Parent Training and Information (PTI) Center established to assist
military families who have children with special education or health
- TRICARE - A health care program serving Uniformed Service members,
retirees and their families worldwide.
- WRIGHTSLAW - Special education law and advocacy
Point of Contact
Information about the Special Needs Program may be
obtained by contacting the HSWL FRS. Please review the enclosed link for a
Regional Work-Life Staff .
If you are unable to contact an FRS on your
Regional Work-Life Staff or
need additional assistance beyond the information provided here, please
contact the Headquarters Special Needs Program Manager, Dr. Marta Denchfield
at (202) 475-5156 or by email at