2008 Blog

31 Dec 08:  Doc,these pads are the best……this was the best gift the guys have received so far! We still need some more pads if you can send them…..we have someone with a large head and the size 6 pads didn’t fit but if you could get size 4 that would be awesome. total number of pads still needed are about 45. 1st and 2nd Platoon guys are really whining about not getting any….thanks for all you are doing!!!!

21 Dec 08: I can tell you from first hand experience, the pads you guys send us are so much better than the regular pads.  Even though they are now giving pads out with the helmets, the pads are literally like rocks.  I know our contracts for equipment are given out to the lowest bidder the majority of the time, and this is where money should not be skimped. 

15 Dec 08: I’m in a security element for a XXXX unit deploying to southern Afghanistan in January, we were issued the old LWH kevlars without pads or any type of head support.  I am trying to get them for my squad in order to give us that extra comfort and protection that our older model kevlars do not offer…  I appreciate what you are doing for us, and my hats off to you…

13 Dec 08: Sir, Our ten hour patrol today helped refresh my memory on why my team is asking for replacement pads. The hard pads press relentlessly on your head, particular the forehead area, creating pain ranging from annoying discomfort, to more severe headaches in different individuals. The major complaint we have with the pads is how fragile the fabric is holding the stiff foam blocks. When you attempt to pull the pads out to clean or reposition them, they tear very easily requiring you to get new replacement pads that are need to be broken in again. Having worn the old Kevlar for many years prior to the ACH, I readily admit that the new ACH system is light years beyond what we had in the 90s. I couldn’t imagine wearing a Kevlar all day, everyday here in Iraq.

15 Nov 08: I am a Cavalry Scout, conducting Reconnaissance and Dismounted Urban Operations.  I am currently in Iraq, and am scheduled to return back to the states in late 2009.  My platoon was issued the older pads that collapse after wearing them for about a month.

6 Nov 08:  Doc, Have been out of the loop for the past “couple” days on mission, a very long mission.  Got back and received the helmet pads.  Passed them all out and had to save one for myself.  They have all been used and there is only one word to describe them:  AWESOME!  I have asked everyone about the pads and they are all in love with them.  I am a .50 cal gunner in the turret and spend ALOT of time standing there all geared up watching and waiting.  Normally I have to duck into the vehicle every once in a while to wipe sweat and take the ACH off just to let me head get a break.  That is NOT necessary any more.  I can keep my ACH on without a problem.  I can also tell you that the pads also keep you warm as well as cool.  Here in Mosul it gets cold and I wear nothing under my ACH now. Again thank you so much for your support!!!  Be safe and take care!!!

24 Feb 08: Anybody else thing this is a heck of a great idea, sent in by one of our supporters? Bob, I am definitely sorry to see that you’re still in business.  I had hoped that the Marine Corps (and also Army & USAF) would have gotten smart and started buying usable helmet liners for our people, but apparently they haven’t.  Therefore, I’m sending you another donation via USPS.  Here’s an idea for you.  America is getting a ‘tax cut’ of $300 or $600, right?  (Tax cuts in the middle of a war; Jesus, what’s happening when our troops can’t get critical equipment but we get ‘tax cuts’)  Well, tell folks through newspapers, TV, whatever to send their government check to Operation Helmet.  Save a life, save another troop from TBI, and strengthen the American economy by buying American helmet liners from an American company.  Make a direct appeal for the WHOLE check.  I’m pretty sure that a lot of Americans would respond positively.  This approach would work best if you could get it on TV as a news story so that it could be picked up on YouTube; then you’d get a continuing number of hits if it grew in popularity. …I don’t know about you, but that’s exactly what I did in addition to our monthly donation. Buying a ‘Made in China’ Support Our Troops sticker for the back of my car just doesn’t cut it! PS: We got our first ‘stimulus’ check from a donor today 5/28/08…but none since. Why?

29 May 2008: The requests keep on coming, but donations have tanked. Please look in your heart (and wallet) and see if this isn’t as important as giving to politicians seeking office. LaVera and I put our ‘stimulus’ check into it; wanna do the same? Americans helping American troops with life-saving gear made in America by Americans…did I leave out something?

26 March, 2008:

We’re getting requests in right and left, asking for the top-of-the-line pads we send our warriors with your help. And we need your help right now, more than ever. Seems the election and economic dithering is scaring folks plumb stingy.

Lest we become complacent at the relative ‘calm’ in Iraq, read the ancient writings of Sun Tzu Sun Tzu on Warfare. Personally, I’m waiting for a modern-day “Tet” type offensive in which Al Quaida and/or the Mahdi Army to send numerous body-bombs into all parts of Iraq. One person, one bomb, multiple casualties…trying to show the American People that ‘all is lost’, when in fact just a handful of radicals are trying to implement classic ‘irregular war’ according to the above author.

An enemy that uses Down’s syndrome women to unknowingly commit suicide for them in a marketplace crowded with women and children, innocent civilians all, is an enemy we MUST defeat.

Let’s all pitch in and show the troops we haven’t forgotten about their difficult and dangerous jobs performing the combat tasks we as a nation have asked them to do. The least we can do is provide the tools necessary for maximum protection as well as comfort, a force multiplier. We NEED DONATIONS to get the job done. From a regular donor: “My wife and I donate monthly, but can’t do the job by ourselves. Please look in your hearts and help.”

Note: Several great Americans have pledged to send in at least part of their ‘Stimulus’ check. We purchase American-made pads only!

One of the BEST recognitions a warrior could receive would be the support and respect we can give by helping provide better helmet upgrades.

Special Note: We received donations this week (Jan 15, 2008) from citizens in Italy and France, both wanting to help protect our troops engaged in the global war on terror. Can we do less?

Here’s our local paper’s, the Conroe Courier, take on the issue after interviewing Doc Bob and Congressman Kevin Brady: Helmet upgrade article

The military is finally taking blast/impact-related TBI seriously, as shown by this story. Now to see how long analysis and action takes. Another issue to research is finding out whether or not the soldier was even wearing their helmet when the blast/impact occurred, as some report having to take their helmet off to relieve the headache caused by hard and unyielding pads. Wonder whose brilliant idea it was to buy the cheapest pads on the market then wait to see if they work rather than to simple and rapid studies to determine wearability of helmets with the various pads out there? According the reports released by the Marines, the cheaper pads were purchased even before blast/impact studies were available, nevermind wearability studies.

The Marine Corps had already approved the use of pads prior to the tests, and while these tests were underway, Marine Expeditionary Forces, in coordination with Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM), procured 39,000 sets of padded helmet suspension systems to meet immediate operational needs.  MARCORSYSCOM purchased an additional 50,000 sets of pad suspension systems…”(MarCorSysCom Release 10-6 dated Octo 6, 2006).”…in other words, ignoring all the scientific testing done to date by the Army, Operation Helmet, and joint military labs. The pads they and the Army chose are bottom-tier poorly designed pads that are too hard for long-term wear and fall apart quickly. Duh.

It appears that Gen Conway recognizes the short-comings of the current LWH Marine helmet, and is aggressively looking for a new and better replacement Helmet interview Conway 2/28/08

Here’s a few emails from Army troops as well as from Marines experiencing problems with the cheaper GI pads Army and Marines have switched to. I’m forwarding them to my Senators and Representatives to urge appropriate testing for ‘wearability’ as well as protection. Helmets only work when worn! We don’t care WHO makes the pads, just want the manufacturer(s) to incorporate comfort into the design. Hard to concentrate on dangerous jobs with a headache, especially one you know damwell isn’t necessary.

Seems the ‘new’ pads ordered by the military are falling apart on the troops. We’re getting requests from troops almost daily in ALL branches of service (except Navy), asking for replacements. “The current pads have worn out within a month of my first having them I have had to resort to how the helmet was first configured putting in the former system it had in it.” And:  ‘the current kit i have (GI) although new feels cheap and tears apart way too easy’. BULLFEATHERS! Our military AND industry can and should do better than this shameful disregard for safety of our troops out on the pointy end of the spear!

The pad system starts off great, very comfortable and light weight. This is my second tour with it.  My first tour I thought hell yes, lighter helmet, removable pads, this can begood. WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!  After about  a month of continuous wear the pads begin to stink from sweat. Don’t try to wash them; they fall apart when you do, then you have the plastic on your head instead of the cloth.  Get supply to reorder the pad, yea right.  The pads are not ordered as a whole kit, they are ordered separately, at a cost of $75-$109 per pad and there are 7 pads in the damn thing.  That is a lot of money to have to be replacing one a month on a helmet.  Come on! I know that we are defended by the lowest bidder; they don’t cost that damn much to replace do they??  (Note: Who’s making grade by ‘saving money’ purchasing cheap crap and then going to work for the same company when they retire?)

In the meantime, let’s get high behind and help these troops! We welcome help annoying Congress until they DO SOMETHING. Only congress, goaded by all of us, has the power to step in and force Industry to respond to needs expressed by the troops. However, letters and telephone calls to these men and women in DC won’t protect our men and women in battle. Your donations WILL. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is the ‘signature’ injury of this war and needs to be prevented as well as treated long-term.

In the words of the USAARL test report for blast protection, “The comfort of the helmet fitting system (i.e., pads) is critical for proper and continuous wear of the protective equipment…if it is uncomfortable or pressure points develop after time, it is possible that the wearer will make modifications to the fitting system (e.g., removing pads, cutting pads, substituting with readily available materials, etc.) in pursuit of a comfortable fit, sacrificing protective capability. Or the wearer may choose to wear the headgear loosely in order to shift the helmet position to alleviate pressure points. This could alter the coverage area of the ballistic shell.” Note: ALL pad systems tested met blast/impact protection criteria when tested at similar thickness of pads. No ‘wearability’ testing was done…for reasons we can’t even imagine.

The Army has put out a request (Requirements for new pad systems, synopsis)for manufacturers to develop a new helmet pad system, including in the guidelines that the pads be compatible with extended-time wear comfort. This is what the Army lab USAARL recommended over a year ago and has been ignored until now. Pressure from the troops as well as us back home DOES WORK!

18 Oct 08:We are an infantry fire team, currently serving in IRAQ, and after a month our pads have fallen apart. Anything you can send us has to be better than the stuff we were issued. Thank You so Much. We heard about you from the AIR FORCE fire team that we are replacing in IRAQ.This is such a great thing that you are doing for our troops, most people send us food, books, CDs, but this is something that we will use everyday. These are a very important part of our gear because 12 hours in a HMMWV can be a long time if you don’t have the right stuff. I look forward to coming back to fill out that survey.

11 Oct 08 The pads have been a help to the other guys in numerous ways. The biggest one for the majority of everyone is comfort, these guys aren’t getting headaches after wearing their Kevlars for 10-12 hours at a time. That’s hard to beat. We’ve only had one hit with the platoon that is using them, but there were no concussions. That’s almost unheard of! I was impressed to say the least. I appreciate the speed with which you’ve handled this and also the fact that you are trying to help us soldiers in whatever way you can. Thanks again.

12 Sept 08: Just received the pads about two days ago. Have them in my ACH now and took them out on about an eleven hour patrol yesterday. I can quite possibly say that it was one of the best patrols i’ve had out here due to the pads. I usually take a tylenol about halfway through our missions due to the headache I would get from the standard issue pads, not anymore though. These pads are hands down the best quality and most comfortable I have ever worn. I wouldn’t even begin to compare these to the standard issue pads we get. Hands down the Oregon Aero surpass GI pads in comfort, sweat absorption, and heat ventilation. They not only felt more comfortable on my head, but noticeably cooler. Oregon Aero produces a great product, and everyone here is very grateful to have generous civilians like yourself get them out too us. Thank you again

10 Sept 08: Doc Bob, I have to thank you for discovering your product.  I purchased one for my son just before he deployed to Afghanistan.  He always has his helmet on and it has saved him many times.  But the big test came August 9, 2008.  They were out on patrol following behind the MRAP.  He had just been promoted to group leader and taken out of the MRAP and made the driver of a HumVee.  To a Mom that is not a good promotion.  To make a long story short (his HumVee) hit an IED the MRAP missed and (he) was hospitalized for 2 weeks.  He only took shrapnel to the arm.  Thank God.  But interestingly the other three marines in the truck with him all suffered concussions but not him.  He was the only one with the helmet replacement liner.  The other 3 were fine other than that.  They did not get wounded.  Their 5 buddies lost in June are doing a Great Job looking over them.  They were very lucky.

7 Sept 08: Just wanted to start out saying how much I and everyone else out here appreciate what you do for us. Its really great to feel appreciated by people like yourself. As for the standard issue pads its mainly the general wear and tear that they endure after a couple field rotations, and the day in day out use we get out of our ACH’s out here. A fellow soldier in my platoon has a set of the Oregon Aeros and cannot say enough good things about them. As far as the route clearance/reconissance patrols that we run out here, you spend a fair amount of time wearing your gear. As I wrote in a previous message our patrols last on average between ten and fifteen hours at a time, so aside from a comforatable pair of boots, ACH pads are definatley high on our list. Thanks again Bob.

3 Sept 08: The problems we are having (with the GI pads) is that the pads are starting to fall apart.  We wash them regularly (hand wash, air dry) to help them stay as comfortable as possible. I gave out the 5 sets you sent and it is unanimous that these pads are great. The Soldiers that wore them said that they were very comfortable and that they experienced no headaches. One Soldier told me that it made his helmet feel like it wasn’t even on his head. Great product!!! Thank You and the people that make theses sets available.

25 August 08:   The pads we are issued fall apart. i have the oregon aero pads but everyone else has issued pads and im ordering new ones for them all because the issued ones fall apart after being washed, last year before i deployed i ordered a pair (oregon aero) and they were great.

22 August 08:  To me the pad feels like the pads that are in the CVCs with the little bumps on them that were hard as a rock too that someone sewed a small piece of material over it. Although better than the old leather sweat band, those pads will wear you down if you have the hard-as-a-brick ones. The Military as a whole needs to look at those pads though. These pads are expensive and for that type of money, the Army should be doing better.

22 August 08: I am here in Afghanistan and will be redeploying in Feb 2009. We get padding in our helmets, but our helmets do not fit right with the current padding system. A lady sent me a care package and told me about you guys.

5 August 2008:  I and many of my other soldiers have been getting the same problems with the pads that are being issued to us as we speak. One of the biggest problems right now is the headaches that we are getting while only having our helmets on for less then a hour then having to deal with it all day long. The other problem is that they are not lasting and tearing apart with in a month of using them. (asked for 125 by September…anybody got ideas on how to raise the money quickly?)

 

4 August 2008: Issued a kit at Ft. Riley, KS, but it has turned hard as a rock over the last 7 months. It becomes very painful to my forehead and temples after only 20 or 30 minutes in the turret. (Sent him two BLU-6 kits): The helmet kit is working very well, and is a great improvement. The second one went to a young infantry soldier who’s out where the all the stuff you hear about on CNN is taking place (about 2-3 kilometers to out west). I keep an eye out for him, but we haven’t run into each other in a while.

4 August 08 : From jalabad: request for 30 kits for convoy/infantry…and the system we have is very uncomfortable. (Feel like hell: had to say ‘sorry, we’re broke’)

18 Jul 2008:  Here at [xxx] EOD company we will be sending a couple teams to Afghanistan to support [xxx].  We all have the crappy pads now. We have approx [xxx – a lot of] Techs here but I would say probably half of us could use them. if you cant get us that many, then any will suffice.  Sgt , USMC

July 3, ’08:   The helmet pads you have sent replaced worn out pads that have torn and left soldiers vulnerable to injury. Thanks to you our soldiers are properly and more comfortably geared for combat. It is humbling to receive such rapid and dedicated support; our country needs more citizens like you during this time of war and sacrifice by our armed services.  Attention America: this one is actually addressed to you who’ve supported the troops either through Operation Helmet or other means.

June 25, ’08 Doc, I apologize for not contacting you sooner, we’ve been pretty busy. The helmet pads were a hit and I’ve had my platoon sergeant ask if I could find ten more. If you could spare them we’d gladly take them. The dry heat of the summers here is affecting the cheap adhesive on the pads causing hem to pull apart even quicker. We’ll be here for another ten months or so, but soon enough the heat will be replaced by snow and sub zero temps. It should make for an interesting time of year. Thank you again for all you do.

June 24 ’08Thank you very much sir, got them today will pass out the warriors who can use them.  Again don’t know the words to express our gratitude to you for what you do, but we will dedicate our missions to good men and women like yourself from the United States in this struggle to build a nation for the people of Afghanistan, thanks for standing shoulder to shoulder with us. You are out here with us and it means a lot to all the Military personnel out here.

19 Jun 08:  We received the pads a couple days ago.  You wouldn’t believe the difference in comfort and breathability!  It is amazing how much better these are and everyone appreciates them so very much.  I did screw up on the order though, i must have punched 10, which did cover half my platoon, is there a way to get an extra 10 or is it too late?  I have given the ones that we got to the Joes and the other lower enlisted and said more was on the way cause I know that we do a lot of the harder work…lol

June 11, 2008:  Most soldiers in my company are running around with helmets sitting way up high on their heads because the pads are too stiff and big (they are the wrong size AND the knock off oregon areo pad sets). This is so incredibly uncomfortable! I’m sick of it!

This is making me crazy! We’re broke and the troops are asking for help.

 

31 May 08 My name is  1stLt  xxxxxx.  In early April your organization sent 8 helmet kits to my Marines from xxxxx  going to Iraq. Well,  I wanted to thank you for the incredibly fast response. My (troops) received the kits the day they were leaving and were very surprised. They, and I, owe you a deep debt of gratitude. Thank you for helping to look after the well being of my (troops) in harms way. As you know we do our jobs and complete the mission no matter what the situation, but it makes a world of difference  knowing someone behind you cares and supports you.

5/30/08 And from Air Force troops acting in lieu of Army (convoy duty) :  I wanted to again thank you, on behalf of myself and all my Airmen, for the helmet upgrade kits.  They arrived a few days ago and were promptly installed by everyone.Everyone is very appreciative of your efforts to increase our comfort level and hence mission effectiveness. (s) Capt xxxxx.

 

And now, the Emails: (More recent ones on front page)

20 March: I am currently deployed to Iraq and have been looking or ways to improve the quality of life for some of our younger Marines here. One of the major complaints is that when we wear our helmets for long periods some of the Marines complain of headaches. I saw your website and thought I would give it a try. Thank you for all you have done for us over here, Marine and Army. (Spoken like a true leader!)

9 Mar 08: LEAVING THE WIRE EACH AND EVERY DAY ATTEMPTING TO GATHER INFORMATION FROM HUMAN SOURCES.  THE MARINE CORPS ISSUES PAD BUT THEY FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE A CEMENT BRICK AGAINST YOUR HEAD. NEED 15 FOR MY TEAM.

20 Feb ’08: Training a Iraq Battalion, departing early April, the  kits we were issued are uncomfortable, they hurt and are difficult to adjust.

18 Feb ’08: My buddy was here before and requested this and it saved his life (USArmy). Please send 15 for my troops and me.

12 Feb ’08: My unit is deploying to Afghanistan in a couple of weeks.  The pads that the Marine Corps has issued us really hurt our heads when we wear our helmets for long periods of time.  We would really like some of the pads you send out.  I have used them in past and really liked them a lot better.  Many of my boys don’t even have a pad system yet and I would like to fix that before we leave.  Please help if you can. 

12 Feb, 2008: Doc Bob, Thank you for your swift reply. I and my team are a Police Transition Team training and mentoring civilian police to take back their cities. The Iraqi Police are very dedicated and want to be “cops” and not para-military. They LOVE American cops. We are training them to put down their AK47s and operate with their Glocks like cops do in America.

My team operates in the Al Anbar Province in and around the city of XXXX. Watch on the news, because we are making great progress. We will be participating in a ceremony Thursday where we will turn over to the Iraqis the major portion of their city. It will transition from Coalition control back to Iraqi Provincial Government control. Soon, most of the Al Anbar Province will be turned back over to the Iraqis. We feel for every Iraqi Policeman we train and certify, one Marine or Soldier can come home.

My team lives in an old school building called a Combat Outpost (COP). We live, train, eat, sleep, laugh, cry and unfortunately sometimes bleed right alongside our Iraqi counterparts. Although Im an old man, the average age of the Marines here is 24. These are magnificent young men and they make me proud every day. They are fearless and soooo dedicated to each other, their Corps and their Country. Don’t let ANYONE tell you we aren’t making a difference here. WE ARE.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting these young men and women here. Sometimes the log train doesn’t reach this far. Most times the Marines improvise, adapt and overcome. But its SO GREAT to have patriotic Americans like those in your group to ask for a little backup when we need it. Please thank all those who volunteer their time and efforts and tell them we love them and would be glad to shake their hands upon our return.

Feb 09/2008:  Bob: Sorry that you are having a tough time funding the helmet pads. As I said before the difference in the Oregon pads is a million times better than the ones the Marine Corps issues to use.  The first time I used the pad system from Oregon I could totally tell the difference from the issued ones. All the issued ones do is give you a head ache and make you want to take the helmet off.  I know you said that you put me on the short list but would love to have the sets so that I can pass them out to the Marines that will be deploying to Iraq some time in March.  Thank you again for all your support and everything that you are doing.

Jan 21, 2008: Received a request from a Marine Reserve unit (155 Marines) headed back into combat…and unable to use the ‘GI’ pads at all, so have reverted to the un-protected form of combat helmet. We MUST NOT let this happen. While we’re pressuring Congress and the military to do what’s right, we need an urgent fund-raising campaign to outfit these troops before they reach their combat assignment. PLEASE HELP WITH YOUR DONATIONS IF YOU CAN.

21 Jan 08: Dr Meaders,  I can’t thank you enough for everything that you and your staff have done for the troops over the years. First, thank you for your service. As you probably already know, the helmet liners that have recently been issued are a step in the right direction. However, they are too thick and made of a much stiffer material making it difficult to even put the helmet on. The Marines would have to go a size bigger in order for them to fit and we just don’t have enough helmets to do that so they are stuck using the webbing. Again, we are very grateful to have folks such as yourself. It goes a long ways, not only because of the valuable product you provide, but the support and hard work you provide. Thank you! Semper Fi! Capt xxxxxx, Executive Officer, USMC

11 Jan 08: My whole platoon is very interested in the helmet pads that you produce (provide!). A couple of my fellow Marines have them. The pads make such a difference in comfort. They supply us with these pads that give us all headaches and are very uncomfortable in weather changes. They also rip very often. It’s like finally when they are broke in, they fall apart. Well the reason for this email is to ask if you can offer us a package deal, so that my whole platoon can get these pads. Please, if you would let us know soon because we deploy back to Iraq in April. I look forward to hearing from you. Cpl, USMC

10 Jan 08: Yes unfortunately we are using the PASGT helmet still…  We are an expeditionary unit for the Coast Guard. Most of our gear is out dated with no change in sight.  Our powers above don’t think when it comes to a combat unit.  The Coast Guard hasn’t even thought of digital camo for us.  As guys are getting three color desert issue we have found that we can’t get the right sizes because we can’t order much of what is needed.  I don’t foresee a helmet change  (to the new Army style ACH).  USCG. …and these guys are headed to the Persian Gulf (Iraqi waters) to do port  and waterway  security! Thanks to a great fund raising effort by Mary Forester, we can help them right now, at least for the troops most exposed to danger. USCG

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