Operation Helmet Fact Sheet: Traumatic Brain Injury is still the number one cause of death or disability in our warriors stationed in Afghanistan…and now starting up again in Iraq.
Request your kit here We would ask that those potentially going ‘outside the wire’ request the helmet pad upgrade kits. We also accept requests from security, QRF, EOD, PSD and others who may have to go into harms’ way at a moment’s notice. We buy and ship helmet pads the Army started with before switching to the ‘shrink wrapped rocks’ now being issued. See the upgrade kit here.
Note: we ask that only troops already deployed or being deployed within 60 days request the helmet pads for themselves and/or their unit. Financial reality means we can’t provide the helmet pad upgrade kits to all hands stateside as well as deployed.
At the request of Natick Soldier’s Lab, Oregon Aero developed helmet pads that Natick touted as ‘the gold standard’ of helmet pads. These pads were used for the first 600,000+ ACH helmets before the military went cheap with the current pads by Team Wendy and/or MSA. While the current GI helmet pads pass the same laboratory tests as those by Oregon Aero, they have proven so hard and unyielding that troops take their brain buckets off or loosen the chin strap for pressure relief, severely compromising protection. In addition, The Lawrence Livermore National Research lab found that too-hard helmet pads actually add to brain damage from a blast wave, further adding to the incidence of TBI.
ALSO: Have you let folks higher up in the food chain know about the problems with the current GI helmet pads? When I urge those responsible to undergo a cephalo-rectal extraction they assure me NO complaints are coming in concerning the current politically-inspired helmet pads.
Make a Donation if you are so inclined.We pay $28.00 apiece, shipping included, for each helmet pad kit. For the present, we are receiving a massive discount on helmet pad upgrade kits from Oregon Aero, thanks to our donors who helped us make a huge ‘advance order’. The company, Oregon Aero, is certainly not making money on the deal, but feels what we are doing for our warriors deserves all the help we can get. Bravo Zulu, Oregon Aero.
If everyone waits for ‘someone else’ to do it, it won’t get done. YOU and I are that ‘someone’ and we appreciate your help. See the emails at the Military link for our warriors heartfelt requests for your help. We redact name and unit for Operational Security…and to prevent back-blast from the Pentagon, everything else is unchanged except the occasional deletion of expletives. Your donation is Tax Deductible … Feel free to ask clubs, leagues, schools, churches, companies you may work for, etc. for donations as well.
Over 86,000 helmet pad upgrade kits sent to combat troops to date…
thanks to the Great Americans who pitch in and help.
Combat is NOT over and will extend until at least the end of 2016…and beyond. Even then, the US will have troops in-country and exposed to danger as they train and lead Afghan Army and Police into action. America will maintain troops in Afghanistan for the near future, all in harm’s way! New threats are popping up all over the map. We aren’t finished with our job yet. Iraq is a ‘new’ ‘old’ story, with troops on the ground from Special Ops as we speak as well as regular Army, AF, Marine warriors helping provide security and training…and it isn’t getting any prettier.
OPERATION HELMET provides helmet upgrade kits free of charge to troops in Afghanistan and other dangerous areas, as well as to those ordered to deploy in the near future. These helmet upgrades do four 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. Keeps blast-wave from transmitting flexure of the Kevlar shell directly to the skull via too-stiff pads. This decreases the chance of brain injury from IED’s, 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.
- Durability – Doesn’t need to be replaced after one month of wear – hard to do when at a Combat Outpost or Forward Operating Base an eternity from a logistics supply point.
From a warrior in combat: The current pads I have in my ACH are so stiff that I have had to loosen my chin straps to the max allowable length just to be able to wear my helmet. I realize that most pads take a little while to break in, but I’ve had these for 5 months now, and they’re still as stiff as the day I was issued my helmet. They’re uncomfortable on top, and I have had to remove two of the side pads, along with loosening the chin straps, to be able to wear my helmet somewhat comfortably for the length of time I have to wear it while on missions. SFC, US Army
Operation Helmet doesn’t design or manufacture helmet pads, just identifies and buys the best ones we have found that have been approved by the military, have been proven in service by US troops and meet operational (protection and comfort) needs of combat troops. We then buy and send the helmet pad kits free to requesting troops ‘outside the wire’ in Afghanistan AND Iraq. If and when more combat areas open up, we shall do the same for all hands at risk.
c/o Dr. Bob Meaders
74 Greenview Street
Montgomery, TX 77356
Telephone: 936-449-9706. Answered gladly 8AM-5PM CST Monday through Friday (sorry, English only) Reluctantly answered before and after… (this is our home phone also, but if you think it’s an emergency, go ahead and call at other times)
We are a 100% volunteer, non-partisan, charitable (EIN: 20-1756585) organization headquartered in Montgomery, Texas (near Houston) with volunteer operations around the country. 99.96% of all contributions are used to send upgrade kits to our troops! We have less than one-half of one percent overhead which is used for very limited expenses related to bank charges or re-sending upgrade kits that didn’t reach the addressee. This is a labor of love and duty to our fellow Service members. We have no salaries or payroll. Doc Bob covers all office expenses.
We regret to report the passing of Jack Visage, CDR, USN, Retired, one of our earlier Board Members. Jack had recently ‘beaten’ lung cancer and was on a celebratory fishing trip when he suffered a fatal heart attack. Farewell, brother, and thanks for all you helped us begin and carry on.
Attention Military: Protective gear should be fitted to the wearer, not the other way around!
Below we’ve selected a few ‘telling’ emails as to why we keep on doing what our troops ask of us: all requests have been honored, thanks to our donors
4/30/17: Request: 30 pad kits: We are currently using the team wendy/Ceradyne pads right now. Despite the Army’s push for better helmets (ECH) we all have the Team Wendy/Ceradyne pads that cause massive headaches and discomfort. Our current situation has us wearing NODs for long periods of time and the discomfort they cause takes away from the situational awareness we’re required to have for our mission set. 3 years ago I deployed to Afghanistan and someone had ordered your pads for us and I can’t tell you how much more combat effective it made us/brought up our morale. Unfortunately, after 4 years, the pads have been destroyed.
We’re currently operating at high altitudes and the last thing we have to think about is how bad our head hurts while our lungs and legs are screaming at us on a patrol. It would be awesome if your organization could help us out, and I know it’d bring joy to all the soldier’s within my platoon. Thank you in advance, a Paratrooper who will always use the pads you provide us soldiers until I’m forced not to do so.. SGT, US Army
4/5/17: In regards to higher ups knowing about our problems with the current GI helmet pads, our commander is most definitely aware, as he is exceptionally disappointed in the fit of his helmet. We are working with Supply, but they were clear in that they could not order different pads, and the ACH shell sizes are limited. It is frustrating to be fighting a battle about PPE (personal protective equipment) when our focus should be on the mission and our imminent deployment. Captain, USAF.
3/6/17: Duties: Security/Infantry. Current Pads: Grey, hard foam pads. Comments: Our current pads have put a bad strain on our heads. Especially when standing post for prolonged periods of time. Headaches and neck strains are very common along with hair loss. The current ones issued are very hard and uncomfortable when working.. LCpl, USMC
2/15/17: Comments: I had no idea there were upgrades that could make wearing your helmet more comfortable. We are crrenty deployed to northern Iraq enabling ISF forces to fight for their country back. This would be awesome to have and hand out to my Paratroopers. With the current pads being so stiff, the helmets seems to be more of a hindrance wearing them but we understand sometimes it must be mandatory.. SSG, US Army
2/13/17: I was purging through my old emails and I found this gem, I cannot remember if I wrote you back at the time to thank you for sending me the helmet pads. I wanted to take a moment and let you know how much it meant to me. I cannot express how grateful I am that I received those pads, they made all of the difference in the world on deployment and even though it has been 3 years they still hold tough. They have done so well in fact that I still wear the brand to this day and recommend them to any soldiers that let me know they have issues. They have helped me to always focus on priority one “the mission” rather than getting distracted by standard issue ones that can make it near impossible to even put on your helmet when the temperature drops enough. Again I am sorry for the late response however I thought it imperative to remedy this and thank you personally for the assistance you gave me. I wish you the best.
2/1/17: “I am the Company Commander with xxx 2/1. First off I want to thank you for the support you have shown to us over the years. Just prior to our last deployment you outfitted our unit with helmet pads. The difference you have made is immeasurable. As the Vertical Assault Unit for 2nd Battalion 1st Marines my guys are often at the tip of the spear
either in country or with the MEU. Recently we have spent a good deal of time supporting operations in Yemen and the 5th Fleet. Although we were fortunate not to have had any of my Marines shot in the helmet, we did have
one Marine fall during fast roping from about 35 feet and hit his head on the flight deck (solid steel surface) and another Marine was hit by the tailgate of a 7 ton truck which weighs about 60 lbs. In both cases neither Marine received any injury and I can guarantee it is due to the direct help you offered us. I am eternally grateful for what you do. I am sure there are other instances that occurred that I am not aware of as well as the additional secondary impacts of reduced amount of headaches, migraines, etc. when having to have a Kevlar or ECH on your head while on patrol or conducting defensive operations for days at a time. Currently, we are due to rotate again soon and over the past 2 years we have had over 70% rotation in forces with Marines getting promoted and going to different duties, as well as new guys coming to the unit after graduating Infantry Training Battalion. We inventoried all of the Marines that received your helmet liners from the original 200 you provided us and identified that we are 70 units deficient. Even though we have been advertising to the Commanding General, Battalion Commanders, and anyone else that will listen the guys are still being issued the inferior gray cardboard filler type pads. I know your services are in high demand but I was seeing if it was feasible to request 70 kits or whatever you can provide our unit in order to take care of these guys before we get out the door again. If for some reason this is not possible I was wondering if you could walk me through how you receive the discount for your kits or could my unit pool our funds together and send you a check to purchase the kits. All of the young studs are definitely willing to pay out of pocket based on what their peers are using. My goal is to just remove as much financial obligation as possible. Again, thank you, thank you, thank you for your continued commitment.”
No way in hell you’re spending your own money to replace shoddy equipment! We just sent 200 helmet pad replacement kits, made possible by donations from proud Americans…we have your backs!
1/23/17: Bob,I have now had some time to test the pads you provided. They are far superior to the grey nuggets that we were issued. Even on a cold day, when donned without a warmup, the pads are on par with the issued stones. But then minutes later, as my head warms the foam, the helmet disappears from my head – it’s so comfortable I don’t even notice it’s there. Thank you again for this service you provide. I will certainly tell every soldier/sailor/airman who suffers with the inferior issued gear, all about your organization.
Dec 21 2106:Duties: Infantry Mortars. Current Pads: Gray standard issued pads. Comments: Almost immediately putting my kevlar on I get headaches can’t concentrate effectively. I would like to get a kit and 3 more for the guys under me complaining about the same issues.. Cpl, USMC
Dec 15, 2016:First, I apologize for the delayed response. Missions has me moving constantly and this is the first time I have had available Internet for personal use in the past two months. Secondly, thank you for the helmet pad kit, we just received them in the mail yesterday. My team and I are already noticing a big difference in comfort and I haven’t heard any complaints since. We have informed our command but they insist that all they can do is send the complaint higher and hope things change eventually. My team and I appreciate everything you have just done for us and thank you for what you do. I hope you can continue what you do too, it’s the little things in life that mean the most. Sgt, US Army
Nov 28, 2016: From us to a requesting warrior: Clint: Have you let folks higher up in the food chain know about the problems with the current GI helmet pads? When I urge the military to undergo a cephalo-rectal extraction they assure me there’s NO problem with them. His response: “It’s something ive brought up with every equipment survey I ever done or when any COL or higher ask about gear. Ill never understand the army going from awesome green/black helmet pads in the ACH back in the day to the bricks they started putting in them after ACUs. (Army Combat Uniforms)” SSG, US Army.
Nov 24 2016: Thanksgiving for deployed troops: I spoke with you on the last deployment for the 82nd Airborne, Pathfinders (now the last Pathfinder unit in the Army). The pads you sent were amazing but now another deployment is underway in a new country and as most of the company has changed out due to PCS/ETS I was wondering if your organization would be able to support the new Soldiers of the Pathfinders with their Combat Search and Rescue mission. I remember you said you were involved in search and rescue with the Navy, so you know we can never count on how to be inserted just that we will use any means to get to those who need us. I was not able to go on this deployment due to the limited numbers available but if Operation Helmet would be able to support 30 BLU6 kits for them I know they would be amazed, I know they’ve made a world of difference for the past two years for my head. Below would be the point of contact in country. I know there are many out there that have not got the chance to experience these pads so if resources must be used elsewhere then it is completely understood. We, the few that are left from last deployment still thank you everyday we have to wear those brain buckets! I wish you, your family, and those who work alongside you a very happy Thanksgiving! Thanking you in advance. SGT: USArmy Pathfinders Search and Rescue.
Oct 30, 2016: Duties: D.A.R.T DOWNED AIRCRAFT RECOVERY TEAM. Current Pads: Grey rock hard pads. Comments: The pads we use now are rocks they give soldiers migraines and are awful to use for a long period of time. You guys are doing an amazing thing and we appreciate it very much.. SPC, US Army
Oct 25 2016: Kits: 40. Hometown: Hamilton, Ohio. Heard about us: Have purchased your helmet pads previously to use in Iraq & Afghanistan. Duties: INFANTRY, SSP(Scout Sniper Platoon), CONVOY OPERATIONS. Current Pads: Oregon Aero MICH/ACH Helmet Padding. Comments: For over a decade through 3 combat deployments, I have used your helmet pads in replace to the low quality issued items we receive. The Oregon Aero pads have been put to the test through multiple IED’s/Blasts and have performed beyond expectations. I only wish they issued these in the Marines, I believe it would help with the brain injuries and concussions. The ones that are issued today are the lowest of quality and do not protect how he Oregon Aero Padding does. They are cheap and after one day of hard sweating alone, become the equivalent of “rocks” on your skull and are extremely painful to wear.. GYSGT, US
Oct 19, 2016: Duties: Convoy. Current Pads: Team Wendy, NSN, Grey/green, hard as a rock. Comments: Headache, pads are extremely uncomfortable and make the helmet a pain in the a$$ to wear.. 1LT, US Army
Oct 4, 2016: When we asked if this marine had reported the helmet pad problem to higher authority: I have brought up the inadequacies of current padding with my higher, sir. All they do is shrug their shoulders and tell us to buy our own if we want. Ironic, considering when some of us junior leaders do so, we’re reprimanded verbally for “wasting your paycheck, devil dog!” Unfortunately, this sort of push-back has lead me to consider ending my career in the Marine Corps instead of reenlisting. But whatever I do, I’ll be damned if I leave without looking out for my junior Marine’s welfare. Thank you very much, sir. To any Officer or SNCO who will listen and care, I’ll mention you by name.
July 22, 2016: 7/20/2016: Duties: PSD (Personal Security Detail), convoy, air flights. Current Pads: Green pad, glued, NSN 6470-01-546-9356. Comments: The issued green helmet pads provided to our small team are causing headaches, discomfort, and are causing distractions by having to adjust the ACH all the time. The green pads make the ACH unreliable to our mission.. SGT, US Army.
June 21, 2016: Duties: INFANTRY, PATROLS, CONVOY. Current Pads: NSN 8470-01-546-9407, Comments: The standard issue helmet pads they gave my platoon are hard as rocks. They’re cheap, uncomfortable, and hinder our mission set because I will have soldiers loosen their ECH (Enhanced Combat Helmet, the new ‘Wonder-Helmet). We have no means of buying aftermarket pads at our location. If you do decide we are fortunate enough to be recipients of your helmet pad my soldiers will greatly appreciate the gesture. Thank you in advance for helping us out!. 1LT, US Army
5/30/2016: Heard about us: Friend. Duties: Infantry. Current Pads: Pad, Helmet advanced combat, grey, hard pads. NSN 8470-01-546-9407. Comments: These current pads that were issued with our ECH’s (enhanced combat helmets) are hard they hurt and apply unwanted pressure on our heads. Each patrol we go on my soldiers are focused on the pain they are in from the pads we currently have.. SGT, US Army. Damfools in the Army sending spiffy new helmets, keeping the same crappy pads that distract troops from their missions, increasing the chance of death or disability.
6/15/2016: Duties: Infantry. Current Pads: Shitty ones that come standard. Comments: They’re uncomfortable, most of the soldiers in my squad can’t even concentrate on the mission at hand; because they’re too busy trying to get relief on their foreheads or the backs of their heads. Just want everyone in my squad to be comfortable and focused. SPC, US Army
4/21/16: The pads extremely easy to install and fit perfectly in the Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH). Immediately after you put the new pads in the helmet, you are able to realize the difference in comfort and functionality. So far, we’ve used the new pads on 6+ hour long outside the wire foot patrols, ruck marches and countless mounted patrols. The difference in comfort and functionality is night and day. The material the pads are made out of is a lot more comfortable and allows a snug yet stable fit to the users head. Using the standard issue pads causes some irritation which causes a lot of users to take off their ACH after prolonged periods of time. When this occurs, it causes a distraction from mission and leaves the user at risk to a potential Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). We are deeply appreciative of this new equipment and after testing it in the field, all the members on my team swear by these new pads. Using these pads allows us to focus on the mission and not the discomfort of the ACH. SPC, US Army
4/18/2016: Heard about us: Another SSgt that you supported before. Duties: EOD work, TRAP response (Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel). Current Pads: Gentex made pad, grey color, glued seam, 3/4 inch thick hard pad. Comments: My fellow EOD Techs and I are currently deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. Where we are involved and working many different aspects of the mission going on out here. My Marines and I just received the newest Marine Corps helmet out right before deploying and the Gentex pads in them are always hard as a rock, uncomfortable, and make it difficult to utilize a com headset with them. I tried to purchase a whole new kit for all the Marines and their helmets but got told we already have pads. The other issue with the pads being so hard I with the blat pressure from explosions which in our job is a lot. We would really appreciate and help you could give to my guys and myself. Thank you for your time and consideration.. SSGT, USMC
4/11/2016: Duties: Infantry, patrols, air assault, convoy. Current Pads: Standard issue. Comments: As a squad leader I need my guys at 110% all the time. Having said that a lot of them always ask to remove their helmets due to headaches or discomfort (pad pain) while wearing it for long durations. I’m one of those that get the headaches so I know they’re not just saying it to get the helmet off. I want to provide my guys with the best gear there is. I feel like helmet pads are often over look but they play a critical role in the overall wellness of soldiers.
4/6/2016: Duties: Artillery/Infantry. Current Pads: The basic USMC issue, light grey & black, cheap material.. Comments: The problem we face right now, is that the current pads are not very good material and due to the “wear and tear” they do not last. They also give me migraines an its just counter productive to wear. They have proven to be less than desirable to use. Most of us hate to wear them but we do regardless because its better than nothing.. GySgt, USMC
April 8, 2015:Today I had a nice chat with death, he said he would try again later. A sharpshooter (for the other team..) took aim at my head, if I didnt have the padding system installed that you provided for me I may have been knocked unconscious from the force of the round impacting my helmet. He hit my ammo supply with another round, I ran out of usable ammo and resorted to my sidearm to clear his friends. I was only slightly disoriented, and a ringing headache. Thank you always doctor. Unfortunately, I had to turn in my helmet for a new one. I lost the padding system as well. The research department was VERY adamant that I left everything inside the way I had it when the incident happened. I had to tell you about this. You saved many lives out of a seemingly simple donation.Thank you –XRecon
12/15/2014: Afghanistan: We wear our ECH (Enhanced Combat Helmet) every day for 12 plus hours at a time. They are causing my guys to have headaches and they are constantly adjusting their helmets. This is detracting a significant amount of attention from security. Security is what keeps us alive. We cannot afford to have even a few seconds of distraction from this. We would really appreciate it if you would send us some better equipment so that my men could stay more focused on the mission and less occupied by unsatisfactory equipment. Thank you so much.
Email from Afghanistan 8/15/2014: Being the small team we are, everyone has their part. For example Some of the staff officers are gunners and or drivers. Adjusting the helmet in any situation could be detrimental to the mission, especially for reaction time on the roadway with traffic. We travel through a city multiple times a week to get to our destination for advising. The people here put the drivers in New York City to shame. Headaches caused by pads can have a chain reaction effect that could be dangerous to the personnel in the vehicle as well as the ones outside. It is not easy to maneuver or stop one of these MAT-V’s on a dime if there is an issue or a distraction of a adjustment needed due to a headache caused by the pads. Let alone the incapacitation of a soldier if the pain is that severe to migraine level that they can’t complete the mission. I actually am the main CROW gunner for the team controlling the .50 so we do a variety of tasks. O-5, USArmy
2/14/2015: Our wish has came true, We cannot thank you enough for helping us become more mission effective, it is only us out here most times, we do not have much down time to spend talking with our families or loved ones. Morale was at an absolute low, but thanks to the efforts of yourself and people like you- now we are excited again. Something to finally look forward to other than canned food,an MRE or what little sleep we can get between rocket attacks and pop shots of assault rifles. As a team leader I want to personally thank you for allowing myself and my men get the equipment needed for upcoming mission successes. People like you are the reason we get up in the morning on time, all we as soldiers hear about is how bad things are becoming stateside, but you have given us hope.”Hawk2″ And the entire Reconnaissance Platoon of Hawk Recon 2-327
8/13/2015: From a Marine LT being deployed, when asked why the ‘higher ups’ won’t understand the need for better helmet pads:
“I am an infantry officer and fully appreciate the need for better pads. I see my Marines taking their hands off their weapons and playing with their kevlars (helmets) all the time, and the first chance they get to pop tops, they take it. The bottom line is the people who make these decisions don’t wear our gear, and don’t patrol and stand post in 100 plus degree weather so they write off the complaints as standard bitching (excuse the language). They know that we will always find something to complain about, which is true. As a result, they look to what they know; American sentiment is very casualty adverse, and the ridiculously uncomfortable and burdensome PPE (personal protective equipment) we wear minimizes severe trauma. They cannot quantify the argument that discomfort equals lax security, degrades endurance and speed with respect to the enemy. They can’t quantify that with all the PPE we are forced to carry X lbs of water extra to account for exhaustion and heat which then slows us down more.. There are too many variables. “