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Ann Medlin, HH6 Camo Chix Founder
Ann Medlin, HH6 Camo Chix Founder

Are you the spouse or parent of a Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, or Coastie?

Perhaps you are still “learning the ropes” as a military wife, or maybe you are the proud mother of a service member in search of information and support.  If either is true, or if you are a seasoned military  spouse or parent with suggestions and tips for those new to military life, then this website is for you! Continue reading Welcome!

Windy25

Honoring the Memory and Sacrifice of 18 Heroes

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Eleven years ago, James Fischer lost his friends and fellow marines when his former unit, Big Windy lost a Chinook helicopter in a crash on 6 April 2005 in Ghazni, Afghanistan. All 18 people on board were killed.

Today, James reflects on that tragic loss :

“In 2015, the number of aviation training deaths tripled. 30 people lost their lives training to maintain readiness for the defense of our nation. The loss of 12 Marines about two U.S. Marine Corp helicopters off the North Shore of my old home in Hawaii in January 2016 further demonstrates how dangerous our profession is. This sacrifice is shared not by just Aviation but all of the branches of the Army and our sister services.

Unfortunately, most of us came to that realization eleven years ago, with the loss of Windy25 in the mountains of Afghanistan.”

On April 9, 2016, James will be participating in the Windy25 Memorial 5K in Las Vegas, honoring the memory of CW2 Clint Prather, CW2 David Ayala, SSG Chuck Sanders, SPC Pendelton Sykes, and SPC Michael Spivey who lost their lives in Afghanistan on April 6, 2005.

As he honors the memory of his crew, James will once again be raising money for an amazing organization, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS).

TAPS has connected over 90,000 family members who have lost a loved one during military service to the grief and counseling services they needed and connecting them with peers who can understand what they are going through, fellow survivors who have endured the same loss.

Read more…

519234864-Veteran-Reunites-With-Man-Who-Inspired-Him-To

Wounded Warrior Returns to the Middle School Where He Was Inspired To Serve

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When he was in the eighth grade,  Chance Cleary met a soldier, Richard Swaim, the son of one of the school’s teachers who had stopped by to talk to students before leaving on a deployment to Iraq.

It was then that the East Wilkes Middle School student knew that he too was destined to serve. It was that classroom visit from a soldier that set the foundation for his Army career, Cleary told FOX 8 News.

Ten years later, things have come full circle as Cleary found himself addressing  students  at his former middle school. Now a wounded warrior — he was hurt in 2012 when a Humvee he was driving went over an IED —  Cleary addressed students November 9th about the importance of being a veteran, and in the front row for his speech was Swaim, the very soldier who had inspired him.

“It’s crazy,” Swaim told Fox 8 News . “Not seeing the kids in 10 years. Now he’s a young man, put his life on the line for everybody.”

Although he still suffers physical complications from that accident and will soon endure surgery to remove his right leg, Cleary is not bitter about anything that happened to him. Instead, he  is hopeful that he can inspire students , like Swaim inspired him, to one day serve our country.

Note from Ann Medlin,  HH6 Camo Chix founder: If you would like to invite Chance to speak at your school, or need help finding someone to speak at a school or special event, please reach out to us in the comments section below. We’d be honored to help connect you with a  service member, veteran or wounded warrior in your area.

Via Military Disney Tips Facebook Page

Announcement by Military Disney Tips: Popular 2015 Disney Armed Forces Salute Extended

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Message from Steve over at Military Disney Tips!

“I wanted to let everyone know that Disney has just extended their current Disney Armed Forces Salute through late December 2015.”

 

The specifics are:

•    The current salute offer has been extended through:
− 20 December 2015 for tickets
− 23 December 2015 for room discounts
•    The total number of allowed Salute tickets has been increased from 6 to 12 for this offer period
•    Tickets are available immediately using the current stock of tickets
•    Resort Hotel Discounts remain the same 30-40% off and are available for booking today, though they are already experiencing some issues.

Check out Steve’s post from today with full info: http://www.militarydisneytips.com/blog/disney-armed-forces-salute/disneys-armed-forces-salute-has-been-extended/

Full Program Info: http://www.militarydisneytips.com/Disney-Armed-Forces-Salute.html

The FAQ: http://www.militarydisneytips.com/Disneys-Armed-Forces-Salute-FAQ.html

Want more tips and information from Steve? Check out our interview with him about Disney Discounts and Vacations for Military Families

family1

Employment: Military Spouse Preference / Executive Order 13473

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This article by guest blogger Jo Barrientos was originally published by USVets6 on January 22, 2015.

“Even though my career was often placed on hold or disrupted with our many PCS moves, as a veteran spouse of 23 years….I’m thankful for all the military life has provided me and my family. I would not trade it for the world and in fact has become one of my driving forces for my passion to “pay it forward” and share all that I know.” ~ Josephine (Jo) Barrientos

Attention all military spouses! Are you seeking federal employment? Did you know that one of the most valuable job placement assistance provided to military spouses today is the Executive Order 13473? 

I know, I know, I will be the first to admit that Executive Orders can be a snoozer to read, but you will want to pay close attention to this one and what I have to tell you!

In a nutshell, here’s what you need to know:

Executive Order 13473, dated September 28, 2008, authorized the noncompetitive appointment of certain military spouses to competitive service positions. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) codified implementing regulations at 5 CFR 315.612, effective September 11, 2009.

This Order allows certain spouses on military orders (within 2 years for each geographical PCS change) “non-competitive appointment eligibility” for positions they apply to and are well qualified.

I encourage you to take full advantage of this law enacted in your favor. If you hope to work in the civil service system, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Contact your nearest local servicing federal employment personnel office for an appointment to “register for the DoD Priority Placement Program S”
  2. Ask for a list of documents you need to bring to the appointment. Typically, you will need to provide a copy of your PCS orders, marriage certificate, and resume. If you are a current federal employee, be sure to bring a copy of your SF-50 and last performance evaluation. Having these documents in hand will ensure a smooth registration.

Here’s how it may work to your advantage.

  • When you register for PPP Program S and simultaneously actively apply for positions you are well qualified for, the system will run its course and potentially ‘match’ you to a job vacancy that has been published by a DoD agency in USAJobs.
  • When you are ‘matched’ by the PPP system, the HR Specialist conducting the rating and ranking process must provide your name on a Referral List to the Hiring Official.
  • The Hiring Official at that point would then be advised by the HR Specialist that by law he/she must offer YOU the position without competition, as outlined by EO 13473Voila! YOU just secured your federal position at your next duty station. Now you see how important it is to register for this program every time you PCS!Note: The DoD PPP system and the federal employment process is a very complex system. You are always encouraged to seek advise from subject matter experts, your HR professionals working at your nearest local federal employment offices or visit the Office of Personnel Management website for more program information.
USVETS6 Founder Jo Barrientos

USVETS6 Founder, Jo Barrientos is the Founder & CEO of USVets6. She’s also currently assigned to the HQ, 25thInfantry Division on Schofield Barrackss the Administrative Officer and Civilian Personnel Advisory Center Liaison.

Her Department of Defense (DoD)career spans over 10 years serving in various roles with multiple agencies. As aDoD civil servant with the Army and an Air Force Veteran Spouse of23 years, Jo is passionate about supporting the military community with their education and training needs. Her life mission includes forming a non-profit organization —USVETS6— aimed at providing employment and entrepreneurial solutions to Veterans and Military Spouses.

USVETS6 supports veterans and military families by providing information about career opportunities, resume writing and networking skills, as well as employment, entrepreneurial, and training opportunities. Visit usvets6.com to learn more about this important project.  Read Jo’s full bio here

 

 

mymilitarybase-military-family-infographic

Military Family Demographics

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As Military Appreciation Month draws to an end, we’d like to share this awesome infographic by mymilitarybase.com outlining the demographics of military families. We’ve also shared a little about the My MilitaryBase.com website, an excellent resource for military families and parents of service members wondering  about a particular military base and community.

shared via mymilitarybase.com

 

About the “My Military Base” Website

Headed for a new military base and wonder what it will be like, or simply curious about other bases? In addition to the information you’ll receive through official channels about a new duty station, many families turn to the internet for unofficial sources of information like Facebook groups, blogs, articles, and websites like HH6 Camo Chix.

One of the unofficial sources of information we’ve found to be helpful is the website, mymilitarybase.com. My Military Base is a great resource for military families and parents of service members wondering  about a particular military base and community. From the home page you can choose a branch of service or simply click on a state to see all the military bases in that state. Choose the base you’d like to learn more about and explore.  You’ll learn about the military base, it’s mission and units, housing, schools, the surrounding area, and a little something about the activities and attractions in the area.

You’ll also find links to additional resources like the base itself, the MWR, the Exchange, the Commissary, Housing, and Temporary Lodging.

 

 

flag

What the Flag Means to Me

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Steve bioGuest Blogger Steve Runge served from 1985 through 1988 at Holloman AFB as an Egress troop on the F-15. He now lives in St Louis and works in law enforcement and sports broadcasting. Steve wrote the following post to share why our Nation’s Flag means so much to him and to others like him.

 

——————

Updated May 30, 2016

I am proud to have served one year on the United States Air Force Honor Guard Team at Holloman Air Force Base. Although the world was at peace while I was in, we did stay busy laying servicemen to rest for one reason to another.

The team was no joke….we were sharp in every way. Our boots were as shiny as glass, and our uniforms were pressed so well, a pair of pants or a shirt could often stand up on their own. We trained, trained, and trained some more. We rotated from different functions on the team….flag detail, casket detail, or firing party detail…..so we had to be perfect in each role.

We provided full military honors at a lot of funerals, but one funeral always stood out as one I’ll never forget.

We were in El Paso, and the gathering of family and friends was the biggest we had seen.
I was on the casket detail that day, although we were trained on the flag detail or firing party, that was my day to join six other Airmen to carry the casket and fold the flag.
For those who haven’t seen a full honors military funeral….I hope you have the chance to see one.
So, where I was standing, I could see the widow and her kids directly in front of me, about 8 feet away. We brought her husband from the hearse and sat his casket right there. It was sunny and beautiful that day.
After the preacher finished his part, we started ours.

Photo shared via Wikimedia Commons

The firing party was off to the right. 7 Airmen holding M-1 Garands, with one Sergeant off to the right. He called the detail to order, and everyone snapped to attention. Then came the orders to raise the rifle, ready the rifle, and fire. Pow….pow…pow……the 21 gun salute went off in perfect syinc.

Sadly, as it usually did, it caught the widow off guard, and she jumped and started crying. Most of the entire gathering jumped as those rifles are pretty loud…..and then they watch in amazement as 7 sharply dressed Airmen in perfect sync fired in perfect harmony. We used to find a tree or a sign off in the distance that we would all aim at, so as we fired our blanks, we were all pointing at the exact same thing.

Photo shared via Sheppard Air Force Base Website

I recalled the widow making eye contact with me, and I got pretty choked up, which was actually pretty common among all of us.
Then, as soon as the 21 gun salute ended, the Bugler began playing Taps on his trumpet.  That day, we had an echo Bugler who was staged about 25 yards away, and he played each note a second or two behind the primary Bugler. It was epic….the best they had ever done, and the family just held each other.

After that, it was our turn. There were six of us at the casket, with a Sergeant at the head of the casket, and a Lieutenant behind him.
We snapped the US Flag off of the casket and pulled it tight so the military style fold could begin. We stretched it, handed the edges across to our team member, and then began the triangle fold all the way to the Sergeant.

Photo shared via Wikipedia

The folds had to be perfect so we had just the right amount of flag left to tuck in, and only the stars were showing. That day we nailed it, and I’ll never forget seeing the Sergeant at the head of the casket tearing up as he held the flag tight during the folding process.

After the flag was folded, the Sergeant takes it in his arms, holding it so preciously like a mother holding a child, and he executes an “about face” where he turns around facing the Lieutenant. Before handing the flag to the LT, the Sergeant from the firing party came over and put three spent shell casings inside the flag.

The Sergeant then slowly passes the flag onto the LT, and then cracks to attention and gives it a slow salute.
The LT then turns and slowly walks over to present the flag to the widow. As he bent over to hand her the flag, she latched on to him and sobbed. It was so sad. We all had tears in our eyes.

The LT has a rehearsed thing to say, but this time we could all hear him break character and really console her from his heart.
When he finally gave her the flag and took a step back, she cuddled up with that flag in her chair like a child.

He took a step back and also gave a slow salute.

Following that, the firing party was dismissed and made it to the bus, then us, then the flag party, which was four Airmen at the head of the casket: two Airman holding rifles, one with the US Flag at attention, and one with the USAF flag.

When we boarded the bus, there wasn’t a dry eye in sight, and we had a pretty somber 80 mile ride back to base.

That’s why the US Flag means so much to servicemen and women, because when all is said and done, the US Flag represents the loss of their loved one, and what he or she died for. Even though during my time, like I said earlier, the world was at peace, it represented their spouse’s time in service…the deployments….the training….the uniforms….the time away………the US Flag represented the life their spouse chose and the sacrifices made on behalf of the USA.

And for every single service member who died during or after their service to this country, each and every one likely has a family who experienced a full military honors funeral, and that’s why the US Flag means so much to them…..and also why the US Flag means so much to me.

Two of Runge’s five children, Tom (L) and Steve (R) currently serve our country in the Air Force.

Tom Steve

Steve, who still keeps in touch with many of his Air Force buddies from ‘back in the day’ adds…

Steve profle“Turned many a wrench for the 7th TFS Bunyaps, 8th TFS Black Sheep, and 9th TFS Iron Knights. Best days of my life.”                                                                              Sgt. Steve Runge
Holloman AFB
49th CRS
’85-’89
USAF Base Honor Guard Team
’87-’88

Brittani and brother Robert

Justice For Brittani

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Help us make things right for this U.S. veteran and her daughter.

mother daughter
In February 2015 Brittani Butler was awarded a 4 year National ROTC Scholarship to James Madison University

“Brittani is the poster child for the term resilient. She should be applauded for what she has accomplished and instead, she receives a letter telling her she isn’t good enough because she sought help when she needed it. That is a travesty,” writes COL Nikki L. Butler of her daughter.

Butler, mother of two, has served in the United States Army for almost 26 years. Her two children have weathered 8 moves and 7 different schools over the years. They missed their mother when she deployed to Iraq in 2010 and endured countless hours, days and even weeks apart while she did her job, which has entailed long hours and extensive TDY trips.

Through it all, Butler shares, the children never complained, which makes a recent injustice suffered by her daughter, Nikki, all the more difficult for her to bear.

COL Butler shared the following with HH6 Camo Chix founder Ann Medlin in a letter that she, with her daughter’s blessing, has given us permission to share. She writes:

“In February 2015 my daughter, Brittani Butler, was awarded a 4 year National ROTC Scholarship to James Madison University. In order to finalize the scholarship, she had to complete a medical history questionnaire and several medical exams. She answered every question truthfully to include the reasons why she had taken certain medications and that she had seen a counselor during her sophomore year of high school. In March 2015, we received a letter back from the DoD Medical Examination Review Board asking for further details as to why she had taken Zoloft and Acutane. We had to send all of the documents pertaining to these medications as well as letters from her dermatologist and family physician. In April 2015 the board disqualified her for history of a mood disorder. This is ironic in that the Department of Defense over the last several years has gone to great lengths making sure that we do not discriminate or punish those who seek help when they need it. I find it incredibly disappointing and hypocritical that a teenage girl who recognized she needed help, went through the treatment and ultimately recovered.

Brittani and brother Robert
Brittani and her brother Robert with their mother, COL Nikki L. Butler

In 2012, we moved from Washington DC where Brittani attended a high school with over 3,000 students to Brandenburg, Kentucky which has a high school with approximately 1300 students. Brandenburg is a small rural community where nearly 80% of the student population has attended school together since kindergarten. Although it is near Fort Knox, there are not many military families in the Brandenburg because it is so rural. The move was particularly difficult for Brittani because she didn’t start high school here – she came as a sophomore. Arriving as a scholar athlete and immediately making the varsity soccer team did not endear her to the girls who had been with the team since Middle School. She was bullied, had few close friends and although she would continue to get straight “A”s, she was incredibly unhappy and withdrawn. After an extremely difficult sophomore year, she finally sought counseling, was placed on a small dose of Zoloft. The combination of the Zoloft and counseling made a remarkable difference. She continued on the medication for almost a year. She began to make more friends, excelled in school and sports and became a key leader in her youth group and several other clubs at the school. She stopped taking the medication in Fall of 2014 and hasn’t had to see her counselor since Summer 2014.

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Brittani (right) overcame adversity to hold leadership positions in her school, earn a GPA of over 5.5, and receive multiple college scholarship offers

During her senior year, Brittani held leadership positions on the Student Council, FBLA and FCA. Her GPA is over 5.5, she took 4 AP classes and received multiple scholarship offers. She has demonstrated her resilience over and over despite the continued struggles she has had to face as the “outsider.”

My children have moved 8 times and attended 7 different schools. It was much easier on them when they were younger. However, this last move was extremely difficult, particularly on Brittani. They have weathered my deployment, my extensive TDY trips and my long hours of work and they never complain. I find it incredibly disappointing that the Department of Defense does not recognize nor reward resiliency in our most precious assets – those children that we rely upon to serve our great nation and take our place. Brittani is the poster child for the term resilient. She should be applauded for what she has accomplished and instead, she receives a letter telling her she isn’t good enough because she sought help when she needed it. That is a travesty.”

Brittani Senior PictureThe National Council on Youth Leadership recently recognized Brittani Butler for all of the things she’s done throughout her HS career. Her NCYL bio reads:
Class President, Student Council, National Honor Society, All “A” Honor Roll, Pep Club, Fellowship of Christian Athlete secretary, Future Business Leaders of America Historian and state winner, Drama, Art Club, Academic Awards, Soccer (Varsity, Captain; 2nd All-Regional and 1st All-Regional Soccer Team), Lee Mount Vernon Travel Soccer Club, Field Hockey Captain, Softball Manager, Hunt Valley Swim Team, Track, AWANAs, Brandenburg United Methodist Church Youth Group and sponsor, Relay for Life Volunteer, and “Glory Goes to God” founder. Enjoys soccer, traveling, volunteering and church. Is attending James Madison University majoring in Law and minor in International Foreign Relations to become an international lawyer for the Army.

We at HH6 Camo Chix are asking readers to help us make the situation right for Brittani. Please help us get the word out by sharing this post, particularly with individuals and organizations that you think could help us find justice for this U.S. veteran and her family.

Thank You For Being There

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photo.PNGMilitary life teaches you to surround yourself with good friends to help you deal with the good and the bad, the highs and lows. As a seasoned spouse I’ve also come to depend more and more on family members and close childhood friends. While they may not be familiar with military life, this special group has become an amazing support system that is always in place, and always available to me whenever I need to reach out.  I can call any one of these ladies at the drop of a hat and vent about anything — whether or not they can relate doesn’t matter — they listen and are there for me, even though we’re thousands of miles apart.

My sister-in-law Courtney is one who is always there for me, and I really wish I could have been there for her this weekend as she graduates from college with a masters degree. But while I can’t be there to applaud her accomplishment in person, I CAN do it from afar by sharing something that she wrote. Courtney blogs, and she wrote a piece this week that I think is perfect for Mothers Day that I’d like to share with you. ENJOY!

Excerpt From “Mama, Why Are You Hiding”

“I laid there on the carpet of Mom and Dad’s bedroom floor, with my face smushed next to the small crack at the bottom of the bathroom door. “Hey, are you in there?” I repeatedly asked as I wiggled my tiny fingers beneath the door. I’m sure all she could see from the other side was a stubby little nose and maybe the glimpse of an eye looking around wildly for a glimpse of movement, as it was pressed against the floor. “Why do you have the door shut? I need to tell you something….are you in there? I can see your feet Mama, I know you are in there. When are you coming out?” Doesn’t it occur to children that when their Mother has retreated to the bathroom and locked the door, that it probably means they need a “time-out”? A little peace and quiet? A moment alone?”   Continue reading…

 

 

 

 

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3 Secrets to beat the stress of PCS

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By Ann Medlin & Leslie Lefebvre

Secret #1: Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Ann Medlin:  Military Spouse, HH6 Camo Chix Founder and Chief Blogger

Ann is a seasoned military wife who has made it her mission to share what she knows and to offer her support to other military families, especially those new to military life.  She knows only too well what it is like to move every couple of years, make new friends, help the kids adjust to a new school and community, and reinvent herself professionally.

Ann Writes:

Packing up and moving every few years is a way of life for military families. Moving is stressful, there is no doubt about it, and one of the biggest causes of stress is not having access to something you need because it’s with the rest of your household goods that haven’t arrived yet,  in a box that wasn’t marked correctly, or (and this can really cause stress) you realize that something you really need or cherish may have been lost or left behind.

I think I was meant to be a military spouse. It’s as if my life leading up to meeting my soldier was preparing me for this life.   I truly believe that things happen for a reason. 

The year I was a freshman in college, the home I grew up in burned to the ground on Thanksgiving morning. I lost everything except the clothes on my back and the Nike sweat suit in my gym bag that was still in my car. To say that it was devastating is an understatement, but thank GOD, nobody was hurt. Continue reading 3 Secrets to beat the stress of PCS

cookies eating

Annie’s Chocolate Chip Cookies: You’ll Love This Simple Baking Hack

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April is the Month of the Military Child, a time to celebrate the important role children play in our military communities and to honor them for their sacrifices. One great way to do that is to share your time with them doing something you all enjoy, like baking a batch of home-made chocolate chip cookies! These easy-to-make treats are perfect for welcoming a new military family to the neighborhood, sending to a deployed family member, or simply filling the family cookie jar with a little extra love.

This simple, four-step chocolate chip cookie recipe is one of my favorites; easy to follow from start to finish, and it calls for one of my favorite kitchen hacks – Bisquick!

Annie’s Chocolate Chip Cookiescookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/3  cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups Bisquick
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup butter  (Now, I’m southern, so I have to add: PLEASE use REAL Butter. This is not a “watch your waistline” or healthy recipe. I believe it’s all about moderation.)
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

 

First step

Mix the butter and sugars until smooth

Second step

Add eggs and vanilla to butter/sugar mixture and mix thoroughly

“Messy” Third step

Add the Bisquick to the mixing bowl a little at a time, and yes, this step is messy. Honestly, if you bake I think it should be an unspoken rule that you get flour dust on the counters and floor!

Fourth step

Pour in the Chocolate Chips and mix with the spatula or a spoon, then drop by spoonfuls onto un-greased baking sheets and bake for 12 minutes at 375°

You should average about 32 cookies with this recipe. ENJOY y’all!

Hints:
  • If you are baking in a new oven (which is every two years for you military folks) check on the cookies at 10 minutes to play it safe
  • I use a melon scoop to keep the cookies all the same size
  • This dough does freeze well, and it’s nice to have cookie dough made up and ready to pull out when you need it.  For greatest ease,  I recommend wax paper in between layers of cookie dough balls I spoon out with a melon scoop.
  • You don’t need to use a mixer for this recipe, but I love using mine! My 10-year anniversary gift, a Kitchenaid,  is the “soul” of my kitchen!
  • To guard against burning and sticking and for easy cleanup, I like to use silpat mats* to line my cookie trays, but parchment paper works nicely too.

* Never heard of a silpat mat? I hadn’t either until a sweet Oklahoma friend of mine and her gem of a mama introduced me to them.  Created by a French pastry chef, the silpat mat eliminates the need for greasing pans, preventing sticking and reducing the risk for burnt cookies. You can find them at a variety of stores including the PX, BX and the NEX.