Sunday, July 23, 2006

Burt Bacharach: To Cher on Operation Helmet

I want to salute Cher, who has all my respect and my love for not only what she has done, but the way she has done it. Her campaign for "Operation Helmet" - done quietly and putting the cause, not herself, out front - is great. She has chosen this issue of trying to eliminate any more of the head and brain injuries our military in Iraq sustains by explosive devices because their helmets aren't good enough to protect them. "Operation Helmet" is a non-profit public service organization that provides our troops with upgrade kits to make their helmets safer.

For some soldiers, it is too late. Some have suffered brain damage and other serious injuries because their U.S. military-issued equipment isn't effective enough to protect our young men and women. Cher tells us the fact that most of these injuries are happening to the Marines because their helmets don't have proper padding. Also, their helmets are often too loose, leaving them vulnerable to even more head injuries. The military is fighting for us, and Cher is fighting for them. It's hard to believe that private citizens need to provide helmet upgrade kits, but it's necessary and being done. Cher's support has brought badly-needed attention to the situation, and every day more soldiers are being equipped with better helmet padding.

Shockingly, the Marine Corps is still studying the "feasibility" of whether this is a good idea. In the meantime, families and friends of those brave Marines are buying padding and sending it to these kids in Iraq while the Marine brass decide whether it is a good idea.

What the hell is this? Cher's support is featured on the web a donation site and it is full of useful information. She went before Congress recently to make the case. She called in to C-SPAN, trying to be anonymous to bring attention to the need, not to her celebrity. She donated a lot of money herself. I like the way you discovered the cause and effectively put it out there, Cher. I respect and love you for it.

Over 28,418 helmet upgrades sent

Current backlog
1521+ kits
Note: backlog is based on contributions, not manufacturing.

We have heard from troops in the field that some pad systems are really hard, hot, and/or uncomfortable. Fill out an anonymous survey here

Christmas message

Mailing address:
Dr. Bob Meaders
74 Greenview Street
Montgomery, TX 77356

Electronic mail:

936-449-9706 Answered gladly 8AM-5PM CST (sorry, English only)

Reluctantly answered before and after... this is our home phone.

OPERATION HELMET provides helmet upgrade kits free of charge to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as to those ordered to deploy in the near future. These helmet upgrades do three primary things:

* Protection - Shock-absorbing pads keep the helmet from slapping the skull when hit with blast forces, fragments, or being tumbled along the ground or inside a vehicle. This decreases the chance of brain injury from bombs, RPG's, vehicle accidents, falls, etc.
* Comfort - If it is comfortable, it will stay on troop's head longer and more often.
* Stability - Keeps the helmet firmly on the head and out of the eyes.

The life you save might save another!

Once all troops are provided the blast/impact protecting helmet upgrades, we will utilize residual funds to help other charities providing for rehabilitation and support of our wounded troops and their families. We are researching several charities and will support those we find to be well managed, little or AT LEAST MINIMAL administrative fees and have a proven track record of helping our wounded warriors cope with their injuries and return to either civilian or military life.

We continue to receive requests from the troops IN Iraq and Afghanistan.

A couple of weeks ago we asked folks to Stand By. Turns out to have been premature. While plans are 'afloat' to provide helmet upgrades by the Marines and Air Force, some units are unable to obtain them (MEU's especially), but the Marines say there is no shortage, just supply issues. The end of December is too long a wait for units that may be called on quickly to augment ongoing OIF/OEF combat or threats elsewhere. So we're back, hat in hand, asking people to donate if they can.

11/8/06 Even if a trooper wears their donated helmet upgrade on only ONE patrol/urban combat mission, it may save their future and perhaps life, so let's all get high behind again and help them.

On another note, troops tell us the 'new' Marine-issued pad systems and the newly purchased by the Army, are NOT the Oregon Aero pads we have historically provided. We selected them due to their excellent track record protecting from blast forces as well as 'wearability'. We are told by troops that the new pads are very hard, do not allow the helmet to adjust to their heads, resulting in headaches and discomfort. Some are taking the 'new' pads out and pounding them with a hammer to try and make them softer and more wearable. We don't know what that will do to the protection they provide, but it can't be good. Helmets only work if they are on the head. If troops have to take them off for comfort in the middle of a patrol, that's NOT GOOD. While the 'new' pads meet blast/impact protection test limits, so do NASCAR shock absorbers. Would you wear those in YOUR helmet? The manufacturers CAN and MUST do better by our troops.

We are sticking around to be the proverbial thorn in the foot of the military/industrial complex to get them looking at this issue from a view other than saving money. Our troops deserve the best if we are going to ask them to stand in harm's way in that troubled and dangerous area of the world! Stay tuned.

We are a 100% volunteer, non-partisan, charitable organization headquartered in Houston, Texas with volunteer operations around the country. 99% of all contributions are used to send upgrade kits to our troops! [*] We have one percent overhead which is used to for very limited expenses - it is a labor of love. We have no salaries or payroll.

Operation Helmet, Inc. is a 501-c-3 charity; our EIN is 20-1756585. Donations are tax-deductible

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