Friday, January 28, 2011

Military Brats: After Burn

Ten questions with Sherry D. Ficklin, author of Military Brats: After Burn

1. What made you decide to write this particular book?

Growing up a military brat myself I was constantly surrounded by people and situations that I thought were ‘normal’. When I married and had a family of my own I realized that military brats are a completely different and unique subculture of people. They think differently, react differently, and on a whole have a vastly different childhood experience than civilian kids do. Being a young adult writer, I wanted to explore that culture, to kind of put a spotlight on how difficult it can be. The book reflects pretty honestly on the day to day life of a military brat, with all its challenges, but it also gives a good look at the kind of bonds that people form with both family and friends when they grow up in that lifestyle.

2. What is After Burn about?

After Burn is a throwback to the classic Nancy Drew type of teen mystery novels, but from a very modern point of view. It’s about a young girl who struggles with being uprooted by her Marine father, deals with the loss of her mother, explores new relationships with boys, and all while ‘investigating’ some threats being made to her father’s squadron from somewhere inside her high school.

3. Are there any more in this series?

Yes. Military Brats is a four part series, each focused on one branch of the Armed Forces. After Burn is the Marine Corps book, Book 2, Dangerous Tides, is the Navy book and is due out this April.

4. What was it like being a Military Brat for real?

It was hard sometimes, but it was an adventure sometimes too. My dad was a Marine, so we moved a lot, which at sixteen is pretty much the end of the world, but as an adult that bug hits me sometimes and I want nothing more than to pick up and go somewhere new. My dad developed MS during his time in service and was medically retired. He passed away a few years ago. These books, all of them, are in his memory.
Then of course, I married a Marine also. We have four beautiful, brat children of our own now.

5. What do you hope readers take away from your book?

I think with any fiction book it’s really all about the escape. I hope readers have a fun adventure while at the same time connecting with the characters and with their struggles. And maybe they walk away with a new respect for what these kids go through.

6. Why is there a Blue Angel on the cover of After Burn if it’s a USMC book?

Oh, I get this a lot. First, I remind people that the Marine Corps is a department of the Navy, (to which my husband snorts and replies, “Yeah, the men’s department.”) and second, because the airport here has two military planes on static display, an A-6 and a Blue Angel. While the A-6 would have been more accurate, and this is where my girlieness comes through, the blue one was just ‘prettier’. We did, however, hoist a 14 year old girl onto the wing of that plane in a prom dress and combat boots to get that shot. You can see more of the photos from that shoot in the book trailer:

7. What was the best/worst part of writing this series?

The best thing has been seeing people’s reaction to it. When I first decided to publish it, people sort of looked at me like, what? A teen book with no vampires in it? It was really hard to find someone who got me and got the work. As it turns out, my publisher is a military wife and it really struck a chord with her when she first saw it. Now when people read it, they’re like, Yeah. That’s what’s been missing in teen literature.

The worst part was some of the parts of the story that were ripped from my own experiences. Some of them were really hard to put on paper, but when it was finished, it was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

8. What is your favorite quote from the book?

Actually, the first chapter heading is my favorite. It says, “Patience is a virtue, forgiveness is divine. Neither is Marine Corps policy.”

9. What are three things people may not know about you?

Well, I collect rubber ducks. It’s true. The weirder the better. My current favorite is my Zombie duck. I still have a major crush on David Bowie that I’ve had since the first time I saw ‘Labyrinth’. And every year my family and I trek from Colorado to DC to visit The Wall. (I keep a rubbing with my grandfather’s name on the board beside my desk.)

10. Anything else you’d like to add?

Yes, a big thank you to all the wonderful, hardworking people at MCAS Cherry Point and NAS Whidbey Island for tolerating me and my ‘research’, and thanks to the people down here at West Star Aviation for letting me borrow your jet. And thanks Marc, for having me here today!
And remember, whatever your political beliefs always support the men and women of our Armed Forces and the families who make their sacrifices possible.
*Thank You!*

And now, for your prize! Answer these three questions correctly and e-mail your answers to . The FIRST TWO entries received will win a Military Brats prize pack loaded with goodies from the Brats Registry and Sherry herself.

1. What shirt does Reece wear on her first day of school?
2. What is the name of the restaurant where Paul took Reece before their first date?
3. What is a TFOA report?

Good luck everyone!!

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Monday, January 17, 2011

TRICARE to Extend Dependent Coverage to Age 26

TRICARE to Extend Dependent Coverage to Age 26

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2011 – To ensure military families don’t get left out as the new national health care reform law extends parent’s health insurance to their children up to age 26, TRICARE plans to roll out its new Young Adult Program by spring and to provide an option to make coverage retroactive to Jan. 1.

The new program will allow qualified, unmarried military children up to age 26 to buy health care coverage under their parents’ TRICARE plans through age 26, defense officials announced yesterday. That’s up from the current maximum age of 21, or 23 for full-time college students whose parents provide more than half their financial support.

The fiscal 2011 National Defense Authorization Act President Barack Obama signed Jan. 7 gave the Defense Department the authority it needed to extend TRICARE coverage to young adults, TRICARE spokesman Austin Camacho explained. This ensures benefits extended under TRICARE are in line with those all American families receive under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that took effect in March.

“We’ve been working hard to make sure we could put TRICARE Young Adult on a fast track,” said Navy Rear Adm. (Dr.) Christine Hunter, who heads the TRICARE Management Activity. “Fortunately for our beneficiaries concerned about health care coverage for their adult children, the law signed by the president includes opportunities for military families to elect this new premium-based plan retroactive to Jan. 1.”

Qualified young adults who don’t have access to employer-sponsored health care coverage will be eligible to purchase it through TRICARE on a month-to-month basis, Camacho said.

Details about how much those premiums will cost under the new program still are being finalized. But because the 2011 defense authorization specifies that the rates must cover all program costs, Camacho said, premiums will be based on commercial insurance data about the costs of providing care.

Once the new program is in place, Hunter estimated that it could extend TRICARE coverage to several hundred thousand additional beneficiaries.

“The premium allows us to provide the excellent benefit to our military families while responsibly addressing the impact of health care costs on the DOD budget,” she said.

Meanwhile, the TRICARE staff has moved into overdrive to iron out the program details: determining eligibility and coverage criteria and costs; designing, testing and implementing the required software and systems changes; updating eligibility databases; and crafting education efforts, Camacho said.

Officials plan to roll out the new program in two phases, first offering a premium-based TRICARE Standard/Extra benefit, Camacho said. Then, later this year, they plan to introduce the TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Prime Remote plan, including overseas options, and the Uniformed Services Family Health Plan.

Once the program is in place, eligible young adults may submit an application and premium payment to the appropriate regional or overseas contractor for processing, Camacho said. Cost shares, deductibles and catastrophic caps will vary, based on the plan selected and the sponsor’s status.

Young adult beneficiaries will receive an enrollment card after they buy coverage, and their payment is reflected in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System, Camacho said.

The new beneficiaries may choose to pay premiums back to Jan. 1, which will entitle them to file claims for any health care costs they have accrued since that date. To do so, officials advise that they save all receipts to ease claims processing.

For adults who need health insurance coverage but no longer qualify for TRICARE coverage, officials advise exploring the Continued Heath Care Benefit Program. This premium-based program offers temporary, transitional health coverage for 18 to 36 months. Coverage must be purchased within 60 days of losing TRICARE eligibility. Information about the program is posted on the TRICARE website.

Navy Rear Adm. (Dr.) Christine S. Hunter

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