Please pause for a moment every day to honor those who have done so much for all of us 70,105
See Guidestar for financials.
Our troops are fighting, risking life and limb in the face of IED's and other ambushes in order to protect YOUR life and the future safety of America.
If able, PLEA$E Make a Donation today. It's a matter of life and death for our combat troops. And it's tax deductable, as we're a 501-c-3 public charity paying no salaries or fees...we're all volunteer veterans helping our brothers in harm's way.
We're getting a large number of requests from Afghanistan-based troops facing IED's daily, those who find/destroy them and those who patrol in spite of them. The present combat helmet's shell is OK, but the pads are so stiff and unyielding the weight of the helmet shell plus optical/communication gear causes severe, distracting headaches. Remedy: they take their helmets off even during combat patrols and convoys. The helmet pads we send are the ones the Army started off with before 'going cheap' with the current 'shrink-wrapped rocks'. With these pads you help us send, troops can forget about their helmets and concentrate on the job at hand (or foot ).
Remember, an OUNCE of prevention is worth a TON of cure as far as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is concerned. Wearing the helmet properly full-time is critical for safety.
We just got out of the field today, but I have passed out the helmet pads we got last week from you. And the Marines eyes lit up when they saw them because some of the Marines knew about them. Now they can concentrate on locating the enemy closing with and destroying them by fire and maneuver. Thank you again for your support on the matter and be assured we will have a donation coming your way soon.
Making a difference, one warrior at a time:
The Starfish Story
A man was walking towards the beach and saw a young boy bend over, pick something up and toss it gently into the ocean. Bemused, the man watched the boy do the same thing over and over. He walked over to the boy and asked, "what in the world are you doing?"
“Well, last night was an unusually high tide and all these starfish washed up on the beach. If they don’t get back in the water, they’ll die, so I’m putting them back in the ocean”
“Good Lord, son , there are hundreds or maybe thousands of them. Do you think you can really make a difference?”
The boy leaned over, picked up another starfish and gently tossed it in the ocean. “There, I just made a difference for THAT one”.
The man quietly began working alongside the boy, saving one starfish at a time.
We invite you to help us make a difference, one warrior at a time.
We're proud to announce the formation of an Advisory Board to help revitalize our somewhat worn-out organization. Linda McMahon (google this lady!) and Vince McMahon have agreed to be our first members.
How about using some of your tax refund to help these guys and others like them going outside the wire daily at great risk, doing the job we ask of them. Personally, I'm donating directly to Operation Helmet from my IRA; that way there's no tax consequence for the withdrawal. Can't keep that up too long, but will do it as long as possible. Old saying: you can eat an elephant if you do it one bite at a time. My teeth are getting sore.
Mild TBIs linked to troop PTSD, suicide
The "Dan Rather Reports" show was somewhat of a disappointment in that it didn't stress enough that troops in combat are the ones complaining about too-firm helmet pads, and with good reason (see:Skull Flexure from Blast Waves- A New Mechanism for Brain Injury with Implications for Helmet Design ). You can view the program and decide which helmet pad vendor comes across as a snake oil salesman for yourself, knowing that all helmet pads pass the Army's blast/impact protecting tests equally. We don't give a rat's patootie what manufacturers say to try and sell their goods or what Stateside 1-2 day 'user evaluations' come up with. We depend on what our warriors in combat tell us from first-hand experience during the months on end they wear their protective gear.
Press reports show that IEDs now cause 75% of Afghanistan casualties - Marine Corps News, news from Iraq - Marine Corps Times. Please help us get the best addition to head armor available sent out to the troops while we continue to press Congress and the military to follow our lead. (4/4/09). (Reference)
March 15, 2009: Recent studies show that 75% of all combat deaths are due to head/brain injury. Until we can provide better bomb protection in our military's vehicles, we need to utilize EVERYTHING in our arsenal to make our troops as safe as possible. The substitution of 'bricks' for helmet pads rather than the best America can provide is inexcusable.
Non-answer from PEO Soldier when I forwarded email complaints (identifying data redacted) from Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and asked 'what would you tell this trooper if they emailed you directly:
"Bob, The Army's position is that we will always test and challenge ourselves to ensure we provide the best products available to our Soldiers. Take care, John"
I don't think this answer will do a single thing to help the trooper obtain better equipment! If it's broke, FIX IT.
Email exchange 10 February, 2009 with PEO Soldier:
From: McGuiness, John J COL MIL USA USAASC [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, February 09, 2009 8:14 PM
To: Bob Meaders MD; Sumner, Vicki CTR USA USAASC; Hauck, Barry T Mr CIV USA USAASC
Subject: RE: Telecon with Congressman Wu's office
Bob, Isn't this a computational model? They have not done any pad testing. For additional info, we'll check with DOTE, they sent up a pad
report to Congress. I will ask DOTE if it is releasable. John
10 February, 2009:
Correct, John. I'll modify our website to be sure it is clear on that issue. Appreciate your help in obtaining the complete data from the 3-lab civilian testing.
Today, 10 January, 2009, I spoke with Congressman Wu's staff (Chair of the Technology and Innovation Subcommittee) to discuss this and other matters concerning helmet protection. Expressed concern about troops' telling us their pads are so uncomfortable they detract from mission effectiveness and performance. No solution offered by the Congressman's staff.
Is it just me, or are things crazy when politicians can raise MILLIONS of dollars almost overnight while our troops have to make do with inferior products? Read the emails we get and see if you can find a few bucks to send our way...99.95% goes for helmet pad upgrades.
New ACH Army helmet to be fielded with higher protection specifications: http://www.fbodaily.com/archive/2007/11-November/15-Nov-2007/FBO-01451187.htm
Re: AP report http://www.star-telegram.com/238/story/1122102.html. The Marine Commandant was given a supposedly wonderful new body armor set to wear on visiting troops. Within a short time, he shucked it off and said it was too heavy, too cumbersome, and will NOT be used for his Marines.
Bravo Zulu to the Marine Corps Commandant, a highly decorated combat veteran. Instead of blindly following the assurances of those in charge of testing, purchasing and supplying the troops with body armor, he went into the combat zones and tried the gear himself, listened to the troops’ complaints and ordered instant changes regardless of cost in order to better protect his Marines and increase their combat effectiveness.
The military's procurement chiefs depend on 'Limited User Evaluations' (LUE's) that test gear in a short-term play-like scenario stateside. If no one complains during these limited evaluations, the bureaucrats stamp the gear ‘Approved’ and send it off for use in combat without further question. When troops go into combat for months at a time, problems with their combat/protective gear surface in what are best called Combat User Evaluations that are overlooked, don’t come to light, or are ignored in the short-term artificial LUE trials.
Operation Helmet has tried to get the military to give note to Combat User Evaluations (CUE's) regarding troops’ blast/impact protecting helmet pads as reflected in the emails we get almost daily from warriors asking for the top-of-the-line pads Operation Helmet provides (and the Army used to provide, but went for cheaper). So far, no response other than to say there isn’t a problem. Better body armor means more lives saved. Better head armor means better quality of those lives.
To better understand the difference between LUE’s and CUE’s, look at www.operation-helmet.org. Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen email us almost daily asking for helmet protective pad replacement sets for their GI pads that have proven dangerous to use in their prolonged combat environments (CUE’s), but were approved for use by the short-term LUE’s. The GI pads are much too hard, resulting in headaches that detract from mission performance and safety when warriors have to remove their helmets for relief or loosen them to be able to concentrate on their complicated missions and patrols. Helmets only work when worn properly; no one can predict IED’s or ambush.
The troops’ Combat User Evaluations’ reflect combat reality, not the ‘scientific’ but meaningless approach taken by Marine Corps Systems Command and PEO Soldier, both of which assure us they’ve not had ONE complaint from warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan or in post-deployment debriefings about their helmet pad problems. To this we say Hotel Sierra…and I’ll leave it to you to decipher the meaning.
S/Robert H. Meaders, MD, CAPT, Medical Corps, USN-Ret
Meeting with PEO Soldier at House Armed Services Committee Hearing Room, Washington, DC 9 December, with HASC Staffer Jesse Tolleson attending as well:
Summary: Army will continue to use Team Wendy or MSA pads for the ACH, as PEO Soldier claims they've not had ONE complaint from a Soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan or during post-deployment debriefing. We find that hard to believe when we get emails by the handful from Soldiers seeking to upgrade their helmets with pads that allow them to wear the helmet continuously during long and danger-filled duty hours.
Something is amiss, either in what the Army asks troops or in the willingness of combat troops to stick their necks out via the chain-of-command and risk either censure or ridicule being labeled 'soft' for asking that they get more wearable helmet pads. Also, troops tend to fix their own problems by any means at hand when they know that going up the chain of command will do NOTHING to help.
When helmets contain pads that are so hard they cause headaches, troops will remove them for momentary relief...and no one can predict at what moment an IED will go off or some other form of ambush will lead to death or disability from brain injury, the 'signature' injury of the war. We are disappointed, but will continue our efforts to change hearts and minds.
1/9/09 New impact/blast wave testing is being done in three independent civilian labs as we speak and we've been promised results (don't hold your breath). However, the same faulty test parameters that insisted on using frozen or baked helmet systems on frozen/baked head forms were mandated for these tests, so that part of the data should be disregarded. It's a simple thing to test the helmet system on a biosimilar head form or volunteers to see what happens to pad temperatures at those extremes of temperature when exposed to the 'heat sink' of the human head's heat regulation. UPDATE: 8/1/09 FOLLOWING A FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST, WE RECEIVED 185 PAGES OF BLACKED-OUT TEST DATA, ALL INFORMATION 'REDACTED' FOR REASONS KNOWN ONLY TO PEO-SOLDIER.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome each time. PEO Soldier should insist that meaningful temperature tests be made the norm rather than the baked/frozen helmet system/headform standards used in past and present tests.
If we can help save just ONE Soldier's life and future, the efforts of all of us are repaid endlessly. On the other hand, if ONE Soldier dies or is disabled due to a fixable flaw in their head armor, SHAME ON THE ARMY and whoever is resisting the changes asked for by our troops.
A more complete report from myself and son Mark who attended and participated is now posted on the US Army section of this website.
In the meantime, please help us keep shaking the money tree. Another 'surge' of troops is headed for the dangerous killing fields of Afghanistan even as Iraq winds down.
Sent July 25, 2008:
Dear Col McGuiness, I’ve read your bio with interest and deep respect for what you’ve done to improve the safety, survivability and comfort of your Soldiers during your highly decorated military career.
As you may know, we’ve supplied many Soldiers with helmet pads manufactured by Oregon Aero (OA), once in universal use by the Army in the ACH/MICH, now supplanted by the GI pads manufactured by Team Wendy.
The reason we prefer the OA pads is simple. Under realistic ambient conditions, they provide the same or slightly better protection than the GI pads and are an order of magnitude more comfortable, according to reports from troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As you can see on our website, we’re bombarded with requests from Soldiers, Marines, and other Service members for OA pads to replace the GI pads they say interfere with mission performance due to headaches caused by the too-firm pads. Also, the pads disintegrate quickly in the field and, in spite of being issued duplicate pads, they run out.
We agree with troops that helmets don’t do the job they’re supposed to unless the Soldier wears it, hopefully without distraction.
Our own admittedly amateur pad flammability tests also show the GI pads to flame easily and burn to exhaustion of material while the OA pads self-extinguish. This may in part explain why the majority of severe burns at BAMC show only a patch of skin on the crown of the head escaping burn injury when one would expect burn protection from the padded helmet’s contact with the head during a conflagration. The Kevlar shell has to pass a rigorous flame test, and one would expect the interior pads to be likewise stringently tested to at least the standards set by Snell Memorial Foundation (SMF) for race car drivers’ helmets (NASCAR).
We met with Marine Corps Systems Command personnel on the same issue with staff of the House Armed Services Committee in attendance. HASC staff have encouraged us to ask for a similar meeting with you. I’ve tried to send emails to addresses for you and BGen Brown supplied by HASC, but they return with ‘fatal errors’ in the address.
We would appreciate hearing from you on the possibility of a meeting to discuss the issues brought to us by the troops. And, by the way, we have no relationship with OA or any manufacturer/vendor other than to purchase their goods and send to requesting troops with the help of thousands of Americans wanting to help.
Sincerely, Doc Bob
Reply 2 August, 2008:
I appreciate those kind words and your service to our Soldiers by staying on the forefront of this issue. I would be happy to meet you and whoever else you would like to bring along. We can never allow ourselves to think or accept we have the best solution and be done with it. We are constantly seeking improvements to everything the Soldier wears or carries. I have seen first hand in Theater and on a subsequent visit to BAMC how devastating burns can be. Please let me know when it would be convenient to meet. You can call Vicki at (703) 704-3xxxx to arrange a meeting. Thanks, John (Col McGuiness).
Update: We were scheduled to meet August 22, but Doc Bob wound up in hospital (again) with bowel obstruction from scar tissue in abdomen. Will re-schedule when up and about again. Seems as I get older, if it doesn't leak, squeak or break, it just quits working!
Update # 2: Scheduled now for 26 Sept at Ft Belvoir. House Armed Services Committee staff will participate either in person or by video teleconference.
Update # 3: Re-scheduled for 9 December; We're meeting in the Sam Rayburn House Office Building, Rm 2118, the site of my previous testimony to the Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces. Should be interesting.
Army has proudly announced they're launching a website asking troops for feedback on issued gear. Guess what? We can provide them hard info about helmet/helmetpads for free from our web site. We get emails almost daily from troops telling us the current pads are dangerously uncomfortable and detract from mission performance. LISTEN TO THE TROOPS, ARMY! READ THEIR SPONTANEOUS EMAILS TO US.
11 July 2008: Meeting with Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) personnel and House Armed Services Committee Staff
Points discussed concerning pad protection from blast/impact forces vs. comfort and pad flammability:
Glossary: fps = feet per second, or the speed at which the helmet is dropped onto the arresting anvil for g-force measurement. OA = Oregon Aero 3/4" pads, TW = Team Wendy 3/4" pads.
1. Both Oregon Aero (OA) and Team Wendy (TW) pad systems passed the 10 fps drop test specifications. (We only use BLU-6 3/4" pads, so the BLSS test with 1/2" pads is meaningless.)
Marine response: TW pads show 'more protection' at the 10 fps test when extreme hot and extreme cold are included in the Mean-all temperature chart.
Our response: The temperature extremes of 14 degrees for cold and 135 for hot are not realistic. Those temperatures are not compatible with human life. The head acts as a heat sink; the pads will assume a temperature somewhere between body temperature and the helmet pads. Test results at these extremes are meaningless. The ambient temperature (real-life) charts show OA padded helmets to be slightly more protective than those with the TW pads under real-life conditions.
Marine Response: Test parameters are set in concrete and cannot be changed (who made them up, we wonder)
2. The OA pads have been shown to be wearable and preferred by Soldiers and Marines under combat conditions. We get emails from troops saying the TW pad-configured helmets are uncomfortable and are removed to relieve hot spots caused by the too-firm pads. Very dangerous when no one can predict ambush with IED's, RPG's or accidents trying to avoid them.
Marine Response: A LUE (limited user exercise) was done with Marines in full uniform and combat configuration. No preference for helmet pads was expressed except for one which was 'off the charts' but not used by Marines…no explanation.
Our Response: In order to achieve real-life information, each component of the combat gear must be field tested separately, as individual component results become obscured in the mass of information concerning the combined total combat rig. Sort of like asking a man on fire if his shoes are too tight. The test asked if the helmets were uncomfortable when worn for 'one or two days' instead of the seven-month duration of combat tours!
3. Given equal protection provided by competing vendors' pads, more emphasis should be placed on comfort and wearability so troops will wear their helmets full-time..
Marine Response: Marines will opt for protection over comfort. TW pads showed 'more protection' or at least failed a 14.4 fps drop test as a lower level than OA pads. That means they're better. (???)
Our Response: The 14.4 fps test was performed "for informational purposes" and was not mandated in the test protocol. It is not know what the test at 14.4 fps represents in the real world. No test standards have been established; 14.4 fps was selected for informational purposes only as per the test report. Safety is compromised when troops remove helmets due to too-firm pads, losing any advantage shown by laboratory testing.
5. Both OA and TW pads will burn when exposed to flame for a specific duration; only the Oregon Aero pad self-extinguishes once the pad has started flaming.
Marine Response: PYROMAN testing (see below's photo/link) done at two labs showed only mild charring on any exposed pad edges of pads in a 4-second standard test of garment protection. The flame nozzles are aimed at foot-to-waist level to exert maximum heat to the garment-draped torso. Also, a trial by MCSC personnel trying to light pads over their barbecue pit did not elicit flames.
Our Response: NASCAR and Snell Memorial Foundation standards require the test to have nozzles aimed at the helmet edge so flames will impact pads directly instead of the remote nozzle position of the Pyroman garment test. Click on the photo below of the test on a Nomex suit to see how the nozzles are aimed. Marines can't get their pads to burn outdoors in the wind. Our own admittedly unscientific pad burning tests were done in a closed garage with no wind effect; all pads burned, some fiercely.
6. Scientists believe that too-firm pads in the 'standoff' space between the kevlar shell and the skull accentuate blast-wave transmission to the head from the helmet.
Marine Response: Not enough is known about blast-wave effect on the brain to consider, please send more information.
Our Response: We sent MCSC emails from Dr Makris of Med-Eng, (now Allen Vanguard) explaining the phenomenon. He also stresses the need for comfort/wearability over protection that is not used in the manner expected. Note: We sent the Marines...and Army... the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory test results on this very issue: no response.
Operation Helmet Bottom line: Given the similarity of protection offered by TW and OA pads, comfort and wearability under actual combat conditions should be strongly considered in pad selection. Flammability should be studied under conditions at least as rigorous as that required by NASCAR.
Marine Bottom Line: Team Wendy pads will continue to be the only authorized pad for Marines. Individual commanders may permit or deny troops wearing 'other than standard' helmet pads.
In other words: 'don't confuse us with facts, our minds are made up.
So, we'll keep on shaking the money trees and helping troops who ask. With your help, of course! Make a Donation
Marine Corps Systems Command put out a press release on 20 Jun 2008 [full text here]. It states in part "Testing was conducted using the American Standard Test Methods (ASTM) International Standard F1930-00. Using this test protocol, the uniform ensemble, including issued helmet pads, was exposed to a four-second flame duration ranging between 1,472 to 2,552 degrees F." We are looking into how the testing was conducted. The standard does not call for a specific amount of time that the burn will occur nor does it specify where the burners will be aimed. Take a look at this test video comparing cotton/poly and Nomex. Please notice that the dummy is suspended by a 2-3 inch tube through the neck. I wonder how this affected the flame/burn pattern and helmet fitting. More questions than answers at this point.
Here's how NASCAR has their racing gear tested; During tests of the edge beading, the techs direct the flame so that it will wrap over the edge of the shell and scorch the comfort liner of the helmet. For this reason, the comfort liners of the helmets are Nomex(r) or some similar flame resistant material. This is about as far as we get into the interior of the helmets when we check for flame resistance though. We're satisfied so long as any point on the helmet that might reasonably be exposed to flame in a crash will self extinguish quickly once the flame source is removed. The video below shows the difference between fire retardant material and that which burns easily:
12 June 08: Important notice that led to the above meeting:
This past week, I got wind of the possibility that Government Issue (GI) pads might be extremely flammable. Being a suspicious old doctor, I tested for myself one each of the GI pads and the Oregon Aero pads we have been providing for the past four+ years. I lit a kitchen match, holding it just under each pad so the flame made contact. The GI pads manufactured by Team Wendy and the other approved pads except those of Oregon Aero burst into a flaming inferno producing a stream of burning plastic dripping from the pad. The Oregon Aero pad flamed momentarily then self-extinguished.
Click here for more Operation Helmet burn test photos. New photos and videos from 20 Jun 08.
The Kevlar helmet shell must pass rigid flame tests, but evidently no one thought to test the helmet’s interior contents, i.e. the blast/impact protecting pads.
As you can see from our website, troops are bitterly complaining the GI pads (cheaper but much harder) are so uncomfortable they keep taking their helmets off to relieve severe headaches. Hard to predict when an IED is going to go off or an ambush occurs. Now we find the protective helmet pads become a flaming fuel source adding to burn injuries from the flash of an IED, Molotov cocktail, etc. Our troops carry loads of electronic gear with batteries that can burn and are surrounded by fuel tanks, hydraulic fluid, motor oils, MRE boxes and ammunition. Should a trooper be rendered unconscious for a short period and waken in a burning vehicle with a helmet full of flames and a veritable lava-flow of burning plastic over the head and face they're in a world of hurt. The same goes, of course, for a trooper struggling to exit a twisted and deformed burning vehicle while flames converge on him.
The Army Burn Unit at BAMC reports that most severe burn victims have a spot on the top of their head that is usually spared. The crown of the head's pads won't flame up if the oxygen is used up in the neighborhood due to burning pads around the helmet periphery and the general environment. Worth a second look? We think so. The entire head area should be protected somewhat from flames by the flame-resistant Kevlar helmet AND self-extinguishing pads. NASCAR does much more rigorous tests on drivers' helmets than the military does on warrior helmets. WHY ???
I would ask you to request immediate confirmation by the military and removal of this dangerous fuel source from our troops' head armor. Less dangerous pads are readily available.
Here's an ACH with the full 7-pad Government Issue kit, following 7 seconds of flame exposure; How long does it take to exit a burning Humvee? If you're injured? Unconscious?
I've emailed the Commandant of the Marines and several Congress folks, hoping to stir immediate action by the military to have the faulty and dangerous pads taken out of all troops' helmets and replaced with the best-but-not-perfect Oregon Aero pads until such time as all manufacturers come up with pads that don't eat your head/face. In the meantime, we need donations to quickly replace as many of the faulty pads as possible! My wife and I are still donating monthly as well as putting in our 'stimulus' check.
Please help us replace these faulty pads. Takes money, more than we have. This is a matter of life and death
p.s.: I hear that DOD is convinced we're some sort of agent for Oregon Aero because we don't point out that their pads are more expensive than the competition. I have NO idea what OA charges the military nor do I care. That's not my business. All we want is for our troops to have the best, not the cheapest, equipment that makes their jobs safer and more effectively performed. I also don't know how much a UAV costs, or even the M4 carbine. If an item costs 3/4 as much but lasts 1/2 as long, where is the saving? Attention DOD: Don't shoot the messenger, fix the problem!
No one should take our findings of pad deficiencies as criticism of USAARL's testing. They can only do what they're charged with doing. They pointed out the lack of testing requested by the military concerning wearability and water logging, recommending further testing be done concerning those issues. It was the military's responsibility to read their report and request the tests be done either at USAARL or by independent civilian labs. It is disappointing USAARL didn't question the test parameters that required either frozen or baked helmet/pad systems be tested rather than using temperatures that reflect those of a helmet being worn on a human head. Helmet systems on the human head quickly change temperature so they are close to that of the wearer. Also, they failed to point out 'outlying' test data that should have been discarded, according to another Army scientist at PEO Soldier. USAARL was 'only following orders'.
19 April 09: I have been in Iraq for over 3 months now and we conduct night route clearance. I have to constantly adjust and shift my current pads around due to headaches, which in turn takes my eyes away from searching for IED's. (SSG, USA-R)
4/8/09 ... the new pads are awful, they are too hard and most Marines get headaches. ( they just don't compress enough) Sgt, USMC
4/3/09: Sir, I am happy to tell
you that I did a little.. 'Which one would you like to wear'. Almost a type of
blind taste test. In every case they all said that they would want to wear your
pads vs the ones issued to us. As a matter of fact I was talking to a Sgt who
said that she had to take a knife and stab the issued pads to get them softer
and more comfortable. Thank you again! (Combat Medic, Afghanistan). SPC, USArmy,
Medic. OpHelmet Note: DON'T DO THIS!
It destroys the pad integrity including the waterproof plastic bag that
surrounds the pad.
4/2/09: My unit is using the Skydex pads that are currently in issue and they have been literally nothing but a headache. I was told by a friend that your organization was giving the better, more comfortable Oregon Aero pads to Soldiers who are deployed. If there is any way that you could help us out, I would very genuinely appreciate it; the hot months are coming and the headaches that come in those months are terrible. Thank you for your consideration and patriotism. SPC, USArmy, Combat Medic
2 April 2009: I'm currently using Oregon Aero pads I received from the Army in 2005. I love them and think that they're the best type of pads for the ACH/MICH; especially with the coming summer heat. The other 11 guys on my team have the newer MSA pads. My guys are constantly complaining about hot spots and a few of the pads have failed due to the material separating from the pad and ripping. We're in a very isolated area along the Iranian border and our water usage is extremely limited. Without the ability to take care of ourselves and our equipment some things don't get cleaned like they should. I've got a couple of guys that have helmet pads that smell very, very bad. I don't know what exactly caused this but I've been using my OA pads for closed to 4 years and have had no such problems. I've been on a quest to get my guys set up with the Oregon Aero pads for a couple of weeks now but due to OP tempo haven't had internet access. We appreciate what you and your organization are doing for us. The tasks we face we do for our nation and the support people like you provide can make a man's allergies act up. Thanks for all that you do. SFC, USArmy, BTT
28 March 2009: I currently have the Oregon Aero BLSS kit and have been using it for 4 years. I love this kit and would like to get a replacement Oregon Aero kit since this one is on its last legs and every vendor I've tried says there is a 3-4 week backorder. If you have any of these available I would be very appreciative. Thank you. !Lt USA.
21 March 2009: I received them yesterday in the mail and the Marines had a 20k hike last night and put them in before they left. They said it was awesome not to have their heads hurting after the hike. We greatly appreciate all that you guys are doing for the Marine. Semper fi.
19 March 2009 Convoys, Security.. The current pads are hard and can lead to headaches with prolonged wear
14 March 2009: I just tried on a helmet with the pads you sent to another unit I'm attached to, what a difference, I have never used those pads. Thanks for taking care of the troops in the sand box.
29 February 2009: THE SYSTEM THEY GAVE US IS HORRIBLE
23 Feb 2009: We are part of a crt (combat repair team) and we are constantly wearing our ach's and many of us continue to get headaches... We just arrived in Iraq and I would like the rest of my team to be comfortable and less irritable at times when we are on recovery
20 Feb 2009: Hey, Everyone at Operation Helmet, God, I can’t begin to explain to you how much better my head feels in the pads you so graciously gave me and members of my squad here in Afghanistan. We wear these things 6-8 hours a day and when in vehicles I have to put a radio headset in my webbing and at night NVG’s on top. Usually I would get major head pains and headaches from the cheap, old, worn out pads. My squad loves them too. I know I’ve been sending email correspondence back and forth but I haven’t seen the internet for months & so I’ll get back to those soon. I hate to ask, but I know a bunch of the members of my platoon have seen our pads and heard how we felt in them and would like some. (Actually someone I gave pads to just came off-post and was praising how much better they are). I don’t know what you can do and I don’t want to impose, but those of us who have them love them and frankly others are jealous. I really can’t express how much I am gracious for the gift; definitely better than any care package. Thank you all and keep up the good work. I will be praising your organization and spreading the word so you get the recognition you deserve. Sincerely, LCPL xxxxxxxxx, (Afghanistan Marine)
NOTE: We may worry about the economy here Stateside, but that seems awfully petty compared to what these young warriors face every day. Please, please help me keep on helping them by donating some hard-earned and scarce cash TODAY. I'm sending these Marines more pads in spite of our bank account being so slim that if it turned sideways it'd disappear.
12 Jan 09: Doc, I gotta tell you, these new pads are the best thing since sliced bread! My Soldiers are now finding it comfortable and bearable, compared to the pads we were issued. No more headaches, no more sweaty smell, gotta love it. Finally, these really make the ACH feel more stable and a more natural feeling on your head, the best you can get while wearing a helmet. Thank you so much for your hard work and dedication to Soldiers and their well being. Bottom line, these are definately a 10 out of 10!
09 Jan 09: Being a Paratrooper, I have seen my share of concussions with the pads that come with the ACH helmet. A few guys I know have jumped from an airplane and landed hard enough to knock themselves out cause the pads are so hard and stiff. Now that we are back in Iraq, I am more worried about TBI from IED strikes while inside the new MRAP vehicles. Thanks for what you are doing. I think what you are doing is very relevant but I believe the word needs to get out to more soldiers. I have been here in Iraq three times and this is the first I have heard of your program. Thanks again!!
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
23 Dec 07: Doc Bob, There wasn't enough room in the box on the request page to write the whole story about my helmet dilemma. The marine corps had issued me back in 2006 a pad system. The one they issue however is very stiff and (seems) about one and a half inches thick. When installed it makes the kevlar stand several inches off your head and is ungainly and not very comfortable. Most marines in my company trashed them and stuck with the webbing, but I did a little surgery on mine and cut the pads in half. It was more comfortable and didn't sit so high but it didn't provide a tight seat with my head. Going on this second deployment, I was again issued a new LWH with the suspension system in it and a bag of those same junk pads. If I have to I would just wear the old suspension rather than install the pads they issue us. One of my friends last deployment had written you guys and I believe he received a set of Oregon aero pads. I remember trying his on and it was perfect. I have 25 Marines in my Comm section at xxxx and we are deploying to xxxxxx in March. If you guys could lock us on some quality pads we would be in your debt. Even if you can't, I want you to know that you and your organization are doing us a great service. Thank you and Merry Christmas. USMC
Dec 21, 07: Our pads here suck. I will appreciate anything that is donated (40 troops) for everyone in my platoon. IED's are one of the more popular attacks that we go through here and good pads are hard to come by.
Dec 21, 07: thank u for your support, once one person heard about these comfortable helmet pads everyone wanted some, so i got with a person from each squad and we signed up so that hopefully everyone in the company that goes out on missions will be able to have helmet pads. thank you again for your support
Dec 2, 07: YOU KNOW WHAT, This will be my 15th time in BAD GUY COUNTRY and we have never received any upgrades what so ever to any part of our uniform. I know that the Air Force is low on the the pecking order, but in my 20 years of service I have always had to go outside my means to make myself or my fellow airman fill safe. I can pretty much guarantee you that we will never see the PASGT upgrade. Now with that said we just hade a group leave in early Aug. and they have never seen any upgrade. Now its our turn and I can tell you we will never see the upgrade. To tell you the truth we have 200+ leaving in the near feature and not one of us will see the upgrade.
12/29/07 I was asked to attend a gathering of the D/chairmen of House Intel, Homeland Security and Appropriations held in Portland, Oregon this week. We had lively discussions about the problem now surfacing related to putting the troops in danger through procuring and issuing inferior products, including blast/impact-protecting helmet pads. I left the meeting assured the matter would be looked into with vigor and quickly. Stay tuned for more information when Congress reconvenes after the New year. I CAN tell you that several criminal indictments are in the process, aimed at those responsible for procurement of military items.
Nov 17, 07: i heard about this website through a battle buddy that recently received a bunch of helmet pads for his squad (from operationhelmet). it was really amazing to me to see people that actually care about out comfort and safety of all of us. its people like you that make my job worth doing. thank you for the continuous support and anything that is sent will be used, shared and most importantly appreciated.
07: Concussions have been one of the
biggest threats to my fellow brothers and sisters in arms. We
appreciate all the efforts made to help bring comfort and safety
in every form possible. When watching the news can become
unbearable for our families, we appreciate all the generosity
made on our behalf. THANK YOU.
Nov 14, 07:"I have recently received a shipment of helmet pads (from Operation Helmet) for my squad and everyone is loving them. the comfort and support that it provides is far better than any other gear that i have purchased. now that i have received the pads for my whole squad, i was told to ask if i could receive some for the whole platoon and/or company. there are 160 soldiers in the company and about 50 in the platoon. about 100 people actually go out on convoys in our company. anything thing that is given to us is very much appreciated and wont be taken for granted. we will use them and give back as much feedback to help you further do this wonderful job that you have chosen for us. we do a lot of convoy security and concussions are a very popular injury. the comfort level in the pads that have been sent are exceptional. thank you for all of your support and love from home. we appreciate anything that is done for us. thank you guys from the bottom of our hearts."
PFC, Army National Guard
Number needed: 45
Reason: convoy security
03 Nov 2007, 02:47:00
i would really appreciate some helmet pads for everyone in my platoon. we
all encounter roadside bombs or ied's frequently and the more comfort and
protection the better. we would appreciate as many as you can send , but
also understand that not everyone will be able to have them, so we will
distribute them to the people that go in the front the most first. if you
can send these it would be much appreciated. ieds's are an everyday thing
for us since we drive more frequently than others. we appreciate your
support and hope to hear back from you soon.
Service branch: Army: CPT
xxxxxx, 1xxnd Combat Sustainment Support
Battalion, 6xxrd Transportation Company
Number requested: 160 (Convoy Escort Teams)
31 Oct 2007 04:45:38 We have upgraded ACHs; however, we did not receive replacement pads for them and most are already worn out and we've only been on ground 90 of our 455 day orders. This is an awesome program! Thank you for taking the time to take care of us! "Warriors on the Road!!"
10/30/07 infantry and we leave in xxxx. some of the marines do have the issued kit but they don't even come close to the ones you/ provide cause they have been used by hundreds of marine before them. They aren't as thick and comfortable.
10/13/07:I am an
Infantry Squad leader deployed in Afghanistan. We have the Mich Helmet
with Pads, but they suck. Once you wear them, they do not hold their
form and are hard to get replaced, we do not get replacements until we
go back home, which is in a year.
10/13/07: Was told the
pads were different then the ones we received (previously), the
ones we got (now) the fabric around them are falling apart, and
you can see everything inside is wrapped on in some thick plastic which
is probably the cause of the discomfort, its thicker then heavy duty
9/22/07 "Sir, I am preparing to deploy to Afghanistan and recently was issued my Rapid Fielding Initiative (RFI) gear. Included in the issue was one bag of MCH helmet pads. However, these pads were not the Oregon Aero pads that I knew and trusted from my most recent deployment to Iraq (NOV 05- NOV 06).
The bag of replacement pads are stiffer, uncomfortable and a knockoff of the Oregon pads. Oregon Aero spent five years developing their pads yet the soldier is now being handed a cheap imitation.
What, if anything, can we do about it? Rspy, Major XX., 101st Airborne"
And from the Marines, "Hello, My name is SSgt xxxxxxxx. I am the supply chief with xxxxxxxxxxx unit xxxxxxx. Our company received some kind of upgrade pad that was issued from battalion that the marines will not wear because it is so uncomfortable. The pads do not fit the helmets therefore causing the helmet to sit extremely high on the marines head. The pads are also very hard and as mentioned earlier extremely uncomfortable. Our marines need to wear the pads because of the importance of helping save marines lives that are in explosions. I sincerely hope that you and your company can help with our problem."
Another Soldier: "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."
Requests have come in from senior unit personnel asking for replacement kits as an alternative to the uncomfortable 'GI' pads (known as 'bricks). The common factor is their need to concentrate on their mission instead of a headache...especially Special Ops, Intel and Sniper teams. This operational necessity should be addressed by the Marines and Army supply folks; until then, we'll help as much as possible as long as the requests come from those authorized to do so.
We also continue to receive requests from troops in the field asking for the upgrades. Despite reassurances from MarCorSysCom to the contrary, some troops are still being sent 'out the door' to combat duty IN Iraq with the bare-bones LWH with NO protective padding. Commanding a desk is less dangerous than commanding a combat unit...but no less responsible for protecting life and limbs of our warriors.
8/7/07 telecon and email from Marine unit TODAY heading out 'quickly' says NO UPGRADES available CAN WE HELP? Thanks to you, America, we DID!
25 July 07 - My husband has just deployed for the 4th time to Iraq last week. Although he volunteered to go with his platoon this time, for me it's feels like the first all over again. I had inquired about sending him a Helmet pad and I remember getting a response that the Marines are issued their own. My husband called at 2 am today asking specially to please email your organization to please send him one of yours if at all possible. Proud Marine Wife.
Marine Corps Systems Command now has a helmet survey for Marines to take here:
A major shortfall in the USMC survey is failing to ask Marines if they have used more than one type of pad and which they prefer. If you've only tried ONE, then there's no basis for comparison. Also, the survey fails to state that pads with no 'brand name' or only a NSN (stock number) on the Velcro-sensitive side are Team Wendy. Oregon Aero is the only pad set that now has the manufacturer's name on it. This isn't rocket surgery, folks. GET IT RIGHT!
Interesting document found at the Natick web site. Says that padded helmets are better than those with no pads - in Aug 2003! - by the Marine Corps team! Click here. Guess the right hand didn't know about the left hand.
From the Military Medicine journal: a study on helmet comfort that used a sample size of 1,123 soldiers. The survey data was collected from July 2004 through January 2005. Pads are more comfortable (really!) Click here
18 July 2007 - Hey Doc, I received the first 20 pads yesterday. Already the fellas are singing the praises of those things, and they all say that it's made a hell of a difference in how comfortable their helmets are. Again, I can't thank you enough for the huge difference that you all have done so far. Most people just bitch about the way things are going, and sometimes throw some money at it. This has been my first experience where someone on the outside has made such a huge and tangible difference in our quality of life. I commend your dedication to this cause, and will do everything I can to promote it throughout the Corps. Semper Fi. Sgt Keith xxxxx
Moose Quakertown 1622
For all of you Moose type folks: Moose Couple Spearheads $35,000+ In Fundraising for Iraq Troops' Helmet Liners By CHRISTOPHER RUVO Bucks County (PA) Courier Times
16 June, 2007 - I have been negligent in sending you a thank you for the helmet pads. They arrived and I passed them out to my Marines who installed them instantly. I did not realize that I could wear a helmet for an extended period of time with out getting a whopping headache. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. Semper Fi, Maj. Xxx, USMC
5 Jun 2007 - Thanks again for all the support you gave xxx 1/25 Marines last year in Fallujah. The helmet pads were great and we had a few left that we handed over to the unit that replaced us. One of the organizations that I had asked to donate to the cause had approved a donation but never sent it. Can you still use it? I've looked over your webpage and I'm a bit disgusted with the way the DOD has approached this problem. Good to do something but it's best to do the right thing. It's unfortunate that the people that are making those choices (on an inferior product) will never been in a situation to use it. Your efforts have made such a huge impact on our service men and women's lives and I thank you for it. Very respectfully, HM1(FMF) xxx
14 May 2007 - I wanted to thank you very much for sending me the two Kevlar inserts. When my grandpa had told me that he had talked to you and that you had designed them yourself* we got into a long conversation about how I hated the old equipment that the Marines for compared to all the other branches of service. I mean I have gone a long time without those inserts that you sent me and my neck used to be sore and stiff long after I got the chance to take off my Kevlar. I just really want to thank you since I put those inserts in I can wear my Kevlar forever it seams like without it irritating the hell out of my head and neck. I gave my good friend Cpl S, the other one that you sent and he agrees with me and he also sends his thanks. Cpl T, USMC, Fallujah Iraq
*OH Note: We don't design them, just buy them and send, thanks to a generous and patriotic American public.
9 May 2007 - Dr Meaders, Sir, my name is Mark Cramer and I would like to share the results of your efforts that were championed by yourself and Cher. About 3 weeks ago my little brother, a soldier in Iraq, was seriously injured in HUMVEE rollover. He sustained significant internal injuries to pelvis and lungs. I am delighted to report that despite nearly losing him 4 times he will make a COMPLETE recovery! A notable aspect is his recovery is due to the fact the padding you worked on in his helmet prevented any head damage. If it were not for the padding this story would not be such a happy one. I and my family would like you to be aware of this and hope that it will serve in your work in continuing to improve the equipment our soldiers use. I would also like to thank you and Cher for what is a great service to our nation! --Mark Cramer
8 May 2007 - Our names are Brittany, Monica and Gabby and our husbands left for Iraq last week. They are infantry in the United States Marine Corps. Unfortunately their helmet pads are not the best and we would feel so much better knowing that they had these helmet upgrades that have been such a blessing over there. We told our husbands about these pads and they are really excited to have them. Below are their addresses. Thank you for all you are doing to help our troops over there, it means the world to them and their families for playing a part in bringing them back home to us! Thank You Again! God Bless
You have helped to prevent injuries, reduce the severity of injuries that could not be prevented, and saved lives.
You have raised awareness of brain injury within the military.
You have raised awareness of brain injury within the general populace and also given them a way to directly contribute to the war effort.
Again - our deepest thanks
Martin B. Foil III
Hinds' Feet Farm
(704) 992 - 1424 w
(704) 992 - 1423 f
Here's a list of Agencies that can help with combined financial/health problems for vets. It's part of another website and not inclusive, but a good starting place.
1 May, 2007
Our efforts together and the Congressional hearing in which I testified in June 2006 stimulated the military branches to recognize the problem with their helmets and at least start the process to provide blast-protecting helmet upgrades to troops in harm's way.
All four services are now almost complete in their coverage of troops both in and deploying to Iraq, with just a few more kinks to iron out in the distribution of the upgrades.
Unfortunately, the military (Marines and Army) changed their procurement and the troops wind up with a cheaper pad system that is hard (troops call them 'bricks') and will not conform to the skull and is uncomfortable to wear. While it provides blast/impact protection, the new government-issue ('GI') pads are so uncomfortable troops have trouble concentrating on the dangerous tasks at hand and take them off for headache relief, even on patrol. That results in an ideal opportunity for snipers or the always-unexpected IED blast. See excerpts from the article below for more info.
We're trying our best to persuade the government to go back to using the best and most effective/comfortable helmet upgrades available instead of trying to save a few dollars at the expense of the lives and futures of our troops. Helmets are only effective when worn, and if a trooper removes it to relieve a headache caused by poor design the intended protection is lost. To quote the USAARL official test results and recommendations:
The Marines have decreed that only the GI pad sets are authorized if available, so we're not advising families or troopers to invest in the first-class ones we provide without checking with their commanding officer first to see if it will be allowed. There is a provision in the MarAdmin that allows commanders to permit troops' using their 'donated' pads, changing them out for the 'GI sets 'as the operational situation permits'. This give commanders latitude in deciding when or IF to make such a local ruling.
We feel it appropriate to now declare 'Mission Accomplished' as far as stimulating the military to take over our job and provide at least the basic blast/impact protecting helmet upgrades they should have been doing all along. Therefore, we are no longer actively soliciting donations aside from already-scheduled fund-raising events, memorials and donors who so choose after the end of April.
We continue to send the protective inserts to requesting individuals and units already in Iraq until such time as the government-issued upgrades are available to all hands. That number is falling rapidly as the military supply system 'stands up' and we 'stand down'. Marine Fleet Anti-Terrorism Support Teams (FAST) in the African Horn are still asking for the upgrades, as they seem to have been left out of the planning for now. I have personally been stationed in Ethiopia. The hospital I was in provided emergency care as well as MEDCAPS (Medical Civic Actions Programs) in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Djibouti. Believe me, they NEED them.
MILITARY MEDICINE, 172, 6:586, 2007
How Satisfied Are Soldiers with Their Ballistic Helmets?
A Comparison of Soldiers’ Opinions about the Advanced Combat
Helmet and the Personal Armor System for Ground Troops Helmet
Guarantor: Brian J. Ivins, MPS Contributors: Brian J. Ivins, MPS*; Karen A. Schwab, PhD*; John S. Crowley, MD MPH†; B. Joseph McEntire, MS†; Christopher C. Trumble, BS‡; COL Fred H. Brown, Jr., MS USA§; Deborah L. Warden, MD*
Many factors are considered during ballistic helmet
design,including comfort, weight, fit, and maintainability. These factors
affect soldiers’ decisions about helmet use; therefore, rigorous research about soldiers’ real-life experiences with
helmets is critical to assessing a helmet’s overall protective efficacy. This study compared soldiers’ satisfaction and problem
experience with the advanced combat helmet (ACH) and the personal armor system for ground troops (PASGT) helmet.
Data were obtained from surveys of soldiers at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Ninety percent of ACH users were satisfied
overall with their helmet, but only 9.5% of PASGT users were satisfied (p 0.001). The most frequently reported problems
for the ACH involved malfunctioning helmet parts. The most frequently reported problems for the PASGT involved discomfort.
This analysis indicated that there was a strong soldier preference for the ACH over the PASGT, which could enhance its
already superior protective qualities. It also demonstrated the usefulness of soldiers’ assessments of protective equipment.
Introduction: Many factors are considered
during ballistic helmet design.1 One major factor is the ability to defeat
missiles. Other important factors, known as human use factors, are related to
the ways in which a helmet affects the wearer and influence the probability that
a helmet will be worn.2 These factors include comfort, fit, weight, and
maintainability. When developing a
helmet, designers must make tradeoffs between these factors. For example, one important tradeoff that designers must always
make is between the amount of ballistic protection and weight. Increasing the amount of ballistic protection a helmet provides
also increases its weight. As its weight increases, a helmet becomes more uncomfortable and burdensome to the wearer,
which results in the helmet not being worn as often as it should be. When problematic human use factors reduce helmet use,
military personnel increase their risk of sustaining brain injuries, because a helmet cannot protect against injury when it is
According to Carey,1 U.S. Army neurosurgeons who served in
Vietnam were concerned about soldiers sustaining unnecessary
brain injuries from small fragments because they were not wearing their ballistic helmets. Lack of comfort and heat retention
were cited as the reasons why soldiers were not wearing their helmets. Other research by Carey et al.3 on a series of 20 fatal
and 8 nonfatal, combat-related, head wound cases from Vietnam found that all of the fatal head wounds resulted from
fragments striking unprotected areas of the head and not the helmets. Those authors also identified four cases in which
helmets prevented brain injuries when fragments struck the victims’ heads. Because of this link between helmet use and
brain injury risk, it is important to identify any human use characteristics that could possibly reduce helmet use by soldiers.
The methods used to evaluate helmets play an important role in the quality and usefulness of the information that is produced.
Helmets used by the U.S. Army undergo rigorous testing in laboratories during initial development and even after they
have been fielded. However, in evaluations of human use characteristics, it is important to supplement laboratory findings
with rigorous survey methods designed to obtain information directly from large numbers of soldiers who used their helmets
in an operational setting, such as during an actual deployment or a combat training exercise. This ensures that the soldiers’
assessments are based on realistic experiences. It is also important to use a carefully designed survey instrument that combines
both open- and closed-ended questions. Open-ended questions allow soldiers to comment about their helmets in
detail, whereas closed-ended questions provide standardized data that are conducive to quantitative analysis.
This article presents the results from a study designed to
elicit soldier feedback about their helmets by using the survey methods
described above. It compares soldiers’ opinions about the two main types of ballistic helmets currently in use by the U.S.
Army, namely, the advanced combat helmet (ACH) (Fig. 1) and the personal armor system for ground troops (PASGT) helmet
(Fig. 2). The PASGT has been widely used by the U.S. Army since the early 1980s and is still in widespread use. In 2003, however, the Army began replacing it with the ACH. The ACH is based on the Special Operations Forces’ highly successful modular integrated communication helmet. The ACH, compared with the PASGT, features increased blunt-impact and ballistic protection, improved field of view, better three-dimensional sound localization, better compatibility with mission equipment, and a more comfortable fit and is 0.5 pounds lighter.4 These improvements should translate into improved soldier performance,
reduced combat injuries, and a strong user preference for the ACH. *Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC 20307. †U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory, Fort Rucker, AL 36362.
‡Air Task Force, U.S. Army Combat Read iness Center, Fort Rucker, AL 36362. §Psychological Operations Directorate, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, NC 28310.
Four of the six most frequently identified problem categories for the PASGT involved discomfort. Twenty-one percent
of the soldiers who reported problems with the PASGT (6% of all PASGT users) stated that it caused headaches, especially
after being worn for extended periods of time. Nineteen percent of the soldiers with PASGT problems indicated that the helmet
was too heavy. Eleven percent of the soldiers reported that the helmet caused skin irritation or cuts on their heads, including
scratches, indentations in the skin, bald spots, hot spots, and reduced circulation. Sixteen percent of the soldiers simply
stated that the PASGT was uncomfortable, without indicating any specific type of discomfort.
Another type of problem that was frequently reported for the
PASGT involved fit (Table III). Many of the soldiers reported that
the PASGT fit them poorly. Examples of poor fit were that the helmet was unstable, it was issued without being properly fitted,
and it was loose-fitting. Strap problems were also among the more frequently reported problems. Many soldiers who reported
problems with straps indicated that the chinstraps were uncomfortable.
Conclusions: bThis analysis has shown that soldiers are more satisfied with the ACH than with the PASGT. The high level of satisfaction with the ACH might motivate soldiers to wear it more often than the PASGT, thereby reducing the risk of sustaining
a brain injury. The analysis has also demonstrated the usefulness of systematically surveying large numbers of soldiers
to acquire information about helmets. It is important for the Army to continue assessing soldiers’ levels of satisfaction with
their ballistic helmets, especially when existing helmets are modified or new helmets are being considered. This can provide
additional data that can augment the laboratory studies that are routinely used to evaluate helmets.
18 Mar 2007 - Under the category of "things that will make your head explode" OSD Operational Test and Evaluation report, 13 Mar 07 20070313132832514.pdf 90 pages. Here is my letter back pointing out above report's flaws Krieg-test-results-18Mar07.pdf
We have also heard that some (not all) deploying troops have been forced to turn in their helmet upgrade pads we've sent and use the hard, uncomfortable Marine-issue pads. This is strange, as all helmet pads supposedly have the same stock number and exactly which pad is sent is decided on by another agency. Getting a little bit testy since Congress backed our findings on the need for pads?
How are the 'new' Marine-issue pads being accepted in the field? Here's this morning's (4/27/07) email from a unit preparing to deploy shortly: "Hello, My name is SSgt xxxxxxxx. I am the supply chief with xxxxxxxxxxx unit xxxxxxx. Our company received some kind of upgrade pad that was issued from battalion that the marines will not wear because it is so uncomfortable. The pads do not fit the helmets therefore causing the helmet to sit extremely high on the marines head. The pads are also very hard and as mentioned earlier extremely uncomfortable. Our marines need to wear the pads because of the importance of helping save marines lives that are in explosions. I sincerely hope that you and your company can help with our problem."
2 April 07 - From a Marine Reservist heading to a second combat tour. He is helping us raise funds to provide optimal helmet upgrades for all his comrades. His words come from the heart and mind of a true hero. This morning nearly $18,000 in checks was delivered to support this particular Company. Now, there are four other Companies in the Battalion to go! Let's all get high behind and spread the word of the need, shipmates.
To My Family & Friends,
As some of you know my Marine Corps Reserve unit will soon be re-activated to fight in Iraq. I won’t give details as to our timeline, destinations, or missions as they will change daily and operational security is paramount. Regardless, I will be leaving soon. And the question that I have been asked the most is ‘How do you feel about going back to Iraq?’ Well… I’ve told them how I feel and now, if you could spare a minute, I would like to tell you how I feel.
To answer the question shortly - I want to go back. In fact, I feel that I need to return to the fight. Why? Why would I want to go back to a war that is not producing results, costing billions, and killing my brothers on a daily basis? Why would I want to go to a war where I have little to gain and everything to lose? Why? Because it is the right war to fight. The American public has lost sight of the true war that we are fighting. Iraq has become a convenient distraction from the true fight. What war am I talking about? It is the war that radical Islam has waged against the rest of the world. It is the same war that has been overshadowed by the catch phrase “The War in Iraq”. Well, “The War in Iraq” is not a catchphrase and it isn’t the war itself, its a battlefield, like Afghanistan, where we get a chance to spill the blood of our enemy. And unlike any war in the past there are no boundaries and there will be no end. No end until Jesus returns in fulfillment of his prophecy. My son and his children will be dealing with this fight as the enemy will never change their ideological stance much like we will never change ours. This war will wage as the Fringe Elements of Islam continue to exist.
Many people believe that being in Iraq has little bearing on the war on terror and winning is no longer an option. Yet even if we have no chance of winning we must have the moral strength and courage to continue to fight. Through our operations we have tilled up the Iraqi society and our departure would only allow the enemy to embed themselves deeply within the social fabric. Left unchecked this situation would produce a state that is evil, radical, and anti American. This would be a Jihad Victory. Because of this we must be victorious.
I say that it is the “Right war to Fight” and I mean it with every fiber of my being. America is in this fight now. Much like Israel is locked in war, we are now locked in war. It may be slow and protracted but it will remain. You may be thinking that this is not the case and that the attacks on American soil were a fluke. I say to you that you are lying to yourself and are in for a rude awakening. Not only are you in for a rude awakening but your self-deception will cost our nation dearly in mindset and readiness. You have become tired of fighting. But how can anyone become tired of fighting the right fight? Much like in a foot race you will begin to tire and hurt. You will begin to focus on what is happening to you now. You have lost sight of the goal as you focus on yourself. And the pain that consumes you now has killed your aspirations of winning. You will only be able to win when you keep your eyes on the end goal and you see past the now. But unfortunately our eyes, via the news, have been focused on the now far too long.
Where have the enemies of our country come from? The answer is Radical Islam. The only thing that I can equate Radical Islam to is a gang. In a land where there is little to offer in terms of education, jobs, and class advancement the idle public will begin to look for affiliation. They find that affiliation in their religion. Similar to a gang, Fundamental Islam provides a sense of belonging which translates to influence and through that affiliation and influence the members execute the will of the organization.
Another variable in this complex equation is the stance and objective of our own government. Much like the issue of social security this problem will remain critical yet unresolved. Social security has been identified as flawed. Yet action, or better yet the decision to act, seems impossible to attain due to partisan goals. The issue of Social security is indicative of our government’s all talk and no act nature. Like social security this conflict will not die. And like social security it will not be dealt with. Leaving Iraq will no more fix our problems than ignoring Social Security and hoping that it rights itself. How bout we shoot for simple political victories now and leave the tough issues for future generations to deal with? That sounds more like cowardice than a plan. You can dress it up hundreds of different ways but at the end of the day we will be left with one of two outcomes, victory or defeat. One comment that I receive a lot is “Man, we need to just bomb every Muslim and get it over with.” I couldn’t disagree, and be more disappointed with that statement more. This situation is so much more complex than that and to offer such a suggestion is counterproductive. The enemy that we are fighting is radical, much like a cult. David Koresh and Jim Jones perverted and twisted the word of Jesus Christ as do these individuals manipulate the words of Muhammad for their own demented gains. I consider all leaders and organizations that operate in this fashion to be my enemies. But the remaining 99 % of Muslims are decent people and do not deserve to be grouped together with their fringe counterparts.
One phrase that has stuck with me and rings true is the simplest I’ve heard: “If they lay down their weapons there will be peace. But if we lay down our weapons there will be a holocaust”. So as I sit here I think about the journey that is before me. I have begun my preparations and as the day approaches I find myself more and more focused. I will leave behind my wife and my son, who I will have only known for 1 month, bound for Iraq on my second combat tour with my Marine Reserve unit. And I am prepared to walk back into the fire for my wife, my son, and all of you.
Semper Fi, Sgt. Baker M. Bxxxx, Section Leader
Weapons Company (Mobile Assault Capable)
3rd Battalion 23rd Marine Regiment 4th Marine Division
Baton Rouge LA.
25 Feb 07 -We hope for 100% coverage by military supply system no later than the end of January, 2007! (oops) DIDN'T HAPPEN: the 'surge' gave us a backlog of troops asking for help.
Please don't let frustration with the pace of things in Iraq or partisan bickering take your eye off our goal: protect our troops no matter how we feel about the war!
We're getting a lot of requests from troops who have been issued the new 'GI' helmet upgrades. Turns out the pads are so hard they won't conform to skull irregularities. This leads to areas of 'ischemia' (lack of blood supply) to the scalp with resulting migraine-type headaches. Picture yourself standing watch for bad guys while your troops dash in and out of houses looking for insurgents and weapons cache's...and you've got a pounding headache. Think your concentration is 100% on the job? Think again!
"Concern for man and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavors. Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations. " Albert Einstein
Where possible, we will help these troops by sending the pads they prefer for their wearability, but funds do not allow for us to help everyone as long as they have SOME blast protection, no matter how uncomfortable and disconcerting. Best place for troops to complain is the respective service supply system or headquarters. In the meantime, COME ON, supply wonks and manufacturers. Better stuff is out there and readily available. How many troops have to die needlessly while you save a few bucks?
2 Feb 07 - 33,000 kits
On another note, troops tell us the 'new' Marine-issued pad systems and the ones 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 combat 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 Marine LWH was designed to have 1/2" 'standoff' between the kevlar shell and the skull as the helmet rests on the original nylon sling. The new Marine-issue pads, however, are either 3/4" or 1" thick. Putting these into the standard helmet decreases the interior diameter either one or two inches. The 'standard' LWH once retrofitted with these 'GI' pads is now at least one size smaller. So if you're a Marine in Iraq and are given a set of the pads with instructions to put them into your helmet, it won't fit on your head! And good luck on trying to find the next larger helmet shell...I'm told they're just not available. Good planning?
We continue to lobby Congress, sort of like the proverbial thorn in the foot, to urge the military/industrial complex to look 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! The manufacturers CAN and MUST do better by our troops, providing not only protection but NO distracting discomfort or poor fit of helmets. Stay tuned.
DOD Report on Traumatic Brain Injury in the Military. This report is vital to an understanding of why prevention is so important. It highlights the need for the BEST head armor affordable...and not the cheapest. Heads up, Marines and Army. You're toying with the future of our warriors by changing to helmet pad inserts that detract from mission effectiveness, are uncomfortable and result in helmets hurting, fitting poorly and being removed for comfort...ideal opportunities for snipers and the unexpected IED blast!
2/19/07 heard from two Reserve units of 300 Marine apiece, deploying soon with the old PASGT helmets and no upgrades in sight; asking for help obtaining upgrades...can YOU help?
10/4/06 After three years, over 31,000 helmet upgrades sent and a Congressional hearing:
A MarAdmin has just gone out ordering that all Marines MUST utilize pad suspension systems supplied by Marine Corps Supply. The actual implementation has begun, and we hope it will speed up in the weeks ahead. Until we hear that the added appropriate protection is ON THE HEADS of the front-line combat troops, we'll keep raising funds and shipping the upgrades as quickly as possible.
Once the new Marine-issue pad suspension system (ie. 'helmet upgrades') are given a trooper, they are supposed to turn in either their old nylon sling suspension or ANY NON-MARINE ISSUE pad suspension system they have as operational conditions allow. This wording gives commanders leeway in implementing the change, allowing troops to continue using the ones you help us send.
This means that some Marines will wind up wearing the upgrades provided by Operation Helmet's donors for only a short time before they are replaced with the Marine-issued ones. That makes NO difference to us and our donors. If it means just ONE life saved, one future secured, it makes the effort and expense worthwhile.
2/1/07: Bravo ZULU to the
Marines for deciding to provide this potentially life-saving upgrade to the head
armor for our Marines. But a finger-in-the-eye for the kits they wound up
buying: "Email from a Marine dated 2/1/07: "A Marine in my unit recently
one of your kits. He couldn't say enough good things about it. The pads in my
helmet are ridiculously hard and the helmet doesn't even fit on my head
properly. This causes extreme discomfort and makes it hard to focus on the task
at hand. I am requesting a couple additional kits for junior Marines who are
having the same problem as me. This will greatly improve our efficiency. Thank
you for your support". (This Marine is a combat engineer doing explosive
breaching. Might just 'go to pieces' if concentration lags due to discomfort.
And if you wonder why we keep on keeping on:
"I received the shipment today, my platoon is very excited to have these. I cannot thank you enough for what you do, this was one of the best gifts my Marines could get before some of them go for the first time. Here is to fair winds and following seas, Sir...and Semper Fidelis, LCPL MXXXXXX. "
2/1/07: Where are the upgrades? Another email today "I was
very excited when I saw this program. I was in Ramadi Iraq for seven months last
year. I had so many problems with the kevlar helmet provided to me. It was very
uncomfortable for one. I was in a Humvee that was hit by an IED and I received a
concussion while wearing my Marine Corps issued helmet. The driver of that
vehicle had one of these pad systems inside of his and he was in perfect
condition after the incident. I looked them up and wanted to buy one but they
were too expensive. I would highly appreciate receiving one of these kits."
YOU BET, TROOPER. As long as we have the money, NO trooper
will do without. Thank you America for making this possible through your on-going
10/10/06 The publicity concerning the availability of the helmet upgrades has charged far ahead of the ability of the supply system to distribute them, as evidenced by this morning's emails asking for several HUNDRED helmet upgrades by troops either deploying within the next two weeks and told they would need to get their upgrades 'later' or already in-country and doing without...so folks holding fund raising events should know their efforts are still needed at least through Veteran's Day, 11/11/06 and appreciated during this transition period. We will continue to help provide the helmet upgrade kits to units not yet reached by the supply system but in harm's way. We also have many requests for the Air Force helmet upgrades, as their supply system has not spooled up to provide the added protection just yet.
MarCorSysCom response to our
question as to when Marines can expect to put the new upgrades in their helmets:
"Dr. Meaders, I wish I could be more definitive in my answer
but here goes. MCSC is the acquisition arm of the Marines. We did an initial
purchase of 39,000 and have purchased an additional 100,000 of which 50,000 have
been delivered to I and II MEF in theater in September. The MEFs receive them
through their Supply Issue Points in theater and then assign quotas and
requirements for the battalions. As you can imagine, by the time the pads get
to the company and platoon level some time has passed. This doesn't take long,
but it depends on how quickly the requisition process is working in theater. The
pads are now available in the Marine supply system for all Marines. At this
level, we cannot answer just where in the supply system all the pads are
located. This would be a question for higher headquarters and they would have
to query the system to get this answer.
Bottom line is that it could be now or weeks from now that the individual Marines who need them will get the pads. I'm sure in your days in the Navy you remember how the supply system works. I hope this helps."
LATEST SCOOP ON HOW/WHERE AIR FORCE TROOPS ARE RECEIVING THEIR HELMET UPGRADES 10/23/06
Here's the response we got asking about the plans for the Air
Force's 130,000 newly-purchased helmet upgrades:
"The AF helmet upgrade kits are supposed to be sent to the Expeditionary Theater Distribution Centers (ETDC) at:
376ELRS, Manas AB, Kyrgyzstan
386ELRS, Al Salem AB, Kuwait
379ELRS, Al Udeid AB, Qatar"
10/25/06 FLASH: The Air Force purchased and 'is
sending' over ten-thousand padded suspension systems in the US CENTAF AOR, at
the three Expeditionary Theater Distribution Centers (ETDC), with an additional
122K to be received within a couple of months. The ETDC issues padded
suspension systems to Airmen transiting through, and will ship to those who are
forward in Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations, upgrading their issued PASGT
Helmet. To further afford Airmen with protection, the Air Force has purchased
25K advanced combat helmets (ACH) for troops forward in the AOR.
Until the upgrades are available to ALL troops 'at risk', we will continue to send, anticipating an end to our operations in December, 2006. Residual funds will be used to support charities dealing with the rehabilitation and support of Service members wounded/injured in OIF/OEF...such as the
Semper Fi Fund :The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund: 825 College Blvd., Suite 102, PMB 609,Oceanside, CA 92057; www.semperfifund.org
The Soldiers Fund : Soldier Fund: 217 Meadow Pines Place, San Jose, CA
Brain Injury Association of America: www.bia.org
Intrepid Fund/Rehab Center, San Antonio, Texas Completely private-funded state-of-the-art rehab center presented to the Military free gratis from grateful Americans.
We'll keep you posted.
1/29/07 MORE ON THE NEW AND "IMPROVED" GOVERNMENT-ISSUE (GI) PA
Just received a pad set from a trooper who said he 'couldn't stand to wear his helmet for over 30 minutes without taking it off...not a good idea if a sniper is lurking or IED's don't have warning signs posted! Sent him an Oregon Aero upgrade, of course. Great idea someone had, isn't it? Save a couple of bucks and get a trooper killed. Might even get a bonus at the end of the year for saving money. Bah. Humbug. Throw all the buggers out, find Congressional folks AND Civli Servants who will use common sense to help our troops complete their dangerous jobs.
Some pad sets don't have identifying marks on the Velcro-sensitive side, just the NSN and "Susqehanna Assoc F/T Blind". (..the law mandates that the National Institute for the Blind et al at least take some part in manufacture/shipping of the kit). Hard as a brick, won't conform to skull irregularities. No dang wonder they hurt! Not all heads are perfectly round.
For a quick look at a positive story, click this link: The Real Story: video on good things happening in Iraq
10/8/06 /Email from a Battalion Commander: Doc Bob, The moment we got the first 75 pads from Operation Helmet, we distributed and installed them. We were at Ft. AP Hill, VA at the time and conducting training. I can personally verify the chasm of comfort that exists between the pad vs. suspension system and I have not encountered a single Marine that would change back. Case in point, we had a 330 mile convoy from xxxxx (9 1/2 hours) and I was wearing the suspension system. I was lifting the helmet every 10-15 minutes to get the blood flow started to my cranium -- miserable. On the convoy back -- same distance, but 12 hours -- I never once took the helmet off. You can use all the studies about susp vs pad brain injury, I just want them to keep the helmet on....the pads win. I believe you sent about 125 sets. They were out of the box and in helmets before the UPS truck left the parking lot. We have two significant field ops under our belt in...the summer heat -- the pads are smelling ripe, but they wash out quite nice. Not sure you'd want these systems back.
I mentioned the importance of the pads to the Regimental Commander -- he had a set from his previous job in Congress -- and also to the Division CG. Word got to the ME as well and our supply system cork finally popped. We spent last week swapping all the remaining suspension helmets for pad system helmets. It is a much more firm pad, but is an enormous improvement over the susp system. Bottom line - Our Bn is finally getting what we need. The pads you sent were put to immediate use and would not be good for reissue.....if I could even pry them away from the Marines. I can't thank your donors enough. Their benevolence is certainly saving lives. Sincerely, Jim
10/7/06; We are hearing from units in the field they've not seen hide nor hair of the new upgrades, so we recommend each 'specified' donor ask their trooper/unit if they still need the upgrade we send, and if so to act swiftly. Time is always critical and we want all Marines as well protected as possible every second they're in danger.
We recommend donors carefully consider any further donations until the supply system can 'catch up'. The MarAdmin says units and individuals must exchange their 'old' helmet upgrades for the 'new' ones issued by the Marines AS SOON AS THE OPERATIONAL SITUATION PERMITS. This gives operational commanders a good bit of leeway in telling their Marines to remove the Oregon Aero kits our donors have sent and replace with the Team Wendy kits the Marines bought. We hear from some unit commanders who just leave well enough alone for those already equipped and use their supply of the Marine-issued kits to upgrade all others in need.
Navy personnel are provided upgrades containing shock-absorbing pads similar to those we have been providing the Marines and Air Force troops 'outside the wire'. Way to GO Navy! Wonder why Army shifted to the harder and less 'conforming' helmet pads? Save a few bucks? Or did somebody GET a few bucks?
And from the front:
Availability of Marine-issue helmet upgrades:8/28/06 "We can’t track down an ESD on our order, and the system order with the NSN that was provided bombed out. So we have all these new Marines and have issued out all of the inserts you sent us. Our whole new battalion came without the inserts; if possible to send more, please do."
Sir, thank you for kits that you are
sending out. As you probably already know the Maradmin did hit the streets
but it will take the Corps at least 6 months to get on board with the
program. And then another 6 months for the infantry battallion to accept the
new gear as worthy. Thank you for your continued support of the military
and keeping the active duty Marines, Sailors and Soldiers in your everyday
thoughts and prayers. I hope that the kits you supply these young Marines
only provide comfort and are not necessary to save their lives. But I know
that you can never foretell what is in our futures. I will be a little more
comfortable sending out my Marines with the kits installed and know the
other Officers that requested the other kits will be a little more at ease
knowing their Marines have the best protection available. (I) ask that you
keep ( my )Marines in your thoughts and prayers along with all the other
deployed Marines, Soldiers, Seaman and Airman.
Semper Fi and God Bless your work. Capt XXXXX. (Necessary because of possible recriminations for his telling it like it is)
We ask troops, stateside or deployed, to see if their Supply is handing out the Marine-issue kits. Don't want to send upgrades that are just going to get ditched before they're even used, but on the other hand, don't want troops having to go into combat without the best protection available. We're not abandoning you guys, just seeing if there's a quicker and more thorough way to get all hands protected through the system that's just been announced.Doc Bob...and please stay in touch."
"Thank you for sending the helmet pads to PFC XXXX. Unfortunately, he will not be able to accept anymore because his Commander ordered him not to hand out any protective pads to any Marines. This has become a political situation at Camp Pendleton for the XX Marines. I will send the helmet pads to Marines if I get an address to send to, or I will return them back to you. My son has been interrogated over this matter; his life has become unbearable on base, all started over helmet pads. Although, I would like to say thank you for all your efforts in providing the troops-helmet safety equipment, and alerting the public on the safety issue concerning the helmet’s, please keep up the good work. "
Historical perspective:Here's how the Marines responded to Operation Helmet's push to provide blast/impact protecting pad inserts for Marine combat helmets:
From: Reinwald Col Shawn M [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, March 14, 2006 8:39 AM
News Story of June 15, 2006 just before release of transcript from House Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces hearing in which Marines are directed by Congress to provide the pads themselves.
And NOW for the rest of the story, please review the transcript of the Congressional Hearing (go to "Media" Section) held on 14 June, 2006 in which the Army, Navy and Air Force reiterated their having taken over our job of providing helmet upgrades and the Marine representative balked...only to be instructed to have the testing repeated that the Army had already done if that is what it took to change their minds. In Sept, 2006, the Marines began providing helmet upgrade pad systems.
As of right now (April '07), here's the official Marine response to our questioning why we are still getting requests from individuals and units either in or on the way to Iraq:
"Mr. Meaders, (should be Dr. Meaders,
but what the heck)
I appreciate the efforts of Operation Helmet. Rest assured; no units will deploy without helmet pads. The Marine Corps has been providing helmet pads to Marines since September 2006, and will continue to do so. To ensure clear and open communications with our Marines, please pass my email address to anyone has questions and I will answer them directly. I receive numerous inquiries from Marines on daily basis regarding individual combat equipment and would be happy to respond to helmet pad inquiries as well.
Follow-up question about why we're still getting requests:
Mr. Meaders, All units in Iraq have light weight helmets with pads. Additionally all Marines, active and reserve, will deploy with a light weight helmet and pads. I have received the messages you forwarded from Marines requesting helmet pads and will be answering them today.Sincerely, Maj Renee Holmes, Deputy, PM Infantry Combat Equipment Marine Corps Systems Command
Stay tuned...the new pad systems being purchased are hot, hard and uncomfortable, coming from 'ABOA'...Anyone but Oregon Aero, as if they had anything to do with the Marines' own embarrassing handling of the blast/impact protection issues. Remember, Operation Helmet has NO relationship with ANY manufacturer except to insist on the very best product in terms of blast protection and wearability of upgraded helmets. No axes to grind, no oxen to gore, just protection of our troops in combat.
8/3/06 From the front lines:"We just got the Helmet Kits and its night and day difference. Seriously, these things are great and I cant thank you enough. Im not overstating their effect when I say they have raised morale among the troops. An increase in the quality of the gear translates into an improvement in the Marines performance. Thank You, Paul"
And more: "Just wanted to say HUGE THANKS for this site, founders, workers, and donors. I am an active duty Air Force member of 11 years getting ready to deploy to Iraq. I have inside padding on an older uncomfortable helmet that was donated to us by this company. Small things like this go a long way in the hearts of our soldiers, airman, marines, sailors, and other service members. Thanks to this company for its giving heart and for the now COMFORTABLE older style helmet!!! Thanks for your support both myself and my family appreciate it!"
And from an Air Force trooper's returning home welcome:
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2006 18:23:48
-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)
On August 3rd, 2006, Bill Cashman and I (Dick LaBonte), both Somersworth residents, joined large number of area veterans and civilians in greeting United States Air Force troops upon their arrival at Pease ITP after flying in from Iraq. We spoke with numerous personnel but enjoyed one particular conversation with a First Lieutenant Jennifer xxx who had just telephoned her husband. While Jen enjoyed refreshments provided by our veterans, we very much enjoyed listening to her situation in Iraq. We expressed our gratitude for her service, that we were all very proud of her and wished her a happy and healthy future. Following group photos, we all shook their hands in a long line as they boarded their aircraft for departure. Many happy tears were shed as happens every time that we greet the troops.
On August 15, 2006, Lt. Jen Snow sent the following e mail reply: "Mr. LaBonte, Thank you again for all you have done for us! That was the best welcome home that we have ever received and I know it meant alot to us all. You seem to have a very motivated bunch of folks up there so I wanted to pass along another initiative I have been pushing - many of our troops suffer head injuries and brain damage from accidents and explosions/ballistic hits because they don't have the proper pads for their helmets. I have been working to tell as many folks as possible about Operation Helmet so that we can provide the required pads to our troops to prevent such injuries and help them get back home safely. Here is the link to the website: http://www.operation-helmet.org. You can donate to a specific unit or have donations go to those troops who need it most. Thanks again for all you do - its an honor to snow you and we are proud to have such great folks who have gone before us remember us today. Very Respectfully, Lt Jen xxx"
2 Aug 06 - Dear Dr. Bob, I want to personally thank you for all you are doing. When my address for my son wasn't complete you personally called my home to check about it. My son, Carl, Marine 20 yrs. old, was at sea for training and I didn't know any more information than what I had sent. As soon as he returned to base his helmet upgrade was waiting. I don't know how you found the rest of the info but thank you ! ! Carl is thrilled to have the upgrade. He wants the information for his battalion which is to be deployed on Sept. 13th. My husband and younger son are going to visit him and are taking flyers with your website. Please get ready to fill the orders. I've been passing the flyers out to anyone who will take them. Passed out 400 on 7/29 at a Veterans Celebration in Kimswick, MO. They had 8 Purple Heart Recipients from The Battle of the Bulge in attendance. It was a wonderful day. I was so proud of all those men gave so we can be free and American. Thanks for everything you are doing. Love, Teresa
Letter from Rep Curt Weldon (PA-R) thanking OpHelmet for the work done.
21 July 2006T: From an Air Force trooper: "This is simply a quick note of thanks for your support of my squadron. We recently received several boxes of Oregon Aero's incredible Kevlar helmet upgrade kits and quickly farmed them out to our next batch of guys heading off to support combat operations.
We've been almost continuously deployed in support OEF and OIF since September of 2001, and are logically required to wear our protective gear. I'm not sure who designed the Kevlar helmet, but I can guarantee that comfort was nowhere in the equation. I can't even begin to explain the difference in the sheer comfort of my helmet with the upgrade installed. This "BLSS" really DOES "take a load off my mind…" literally!
You've greatly contributed to the overall readiness, safety, and operational capability of America's sons and daughters. Please allow me to add my most sincere and heart-felt thanks for your support, concern, and generosity. I hope this will help our families rest just a little easier knowing that we have the best protection available. Most sincerely and respectfully, Mark L.
Jun 17, 2006 -
Friends: Thank you for what
you are doing for our service personnel. You demonstrate that "We love our
Troops" is more than a slogan. Will you please tell me if I make a contribution
to pay for a helmet-liner for my grandson (who has just completed his second
tour in Iraq with the Army) will it be sent directly to his mail address or to
his "outfit" for some authority to determine who gets the new liner? [OpHelm
note: sent to the troop as requested]. Again, thank you for doing what our
government should have done long ago. Shame!
Sincerely, Samuel of Crowley, LA
Dear Dr. Bob,
I'm sending you a check under separate cover, but I'm curious to know if you are the Bob Meaders who went to Highland Park Junior HS and played the trombone in the band with Col. Barton? From your pictures online (even at 70) you do favor the young man I remember.
Congratulations on your wonderful work for our young men in uniform who protect the world in which we live! You have indeed, lit several candles! Thank you!!
Jun 17, 2006 - Hello, While watching C-SPAN, I happened to see you discussing Operation Helmet. Thank you for what you're doing. I do not support war, but I feel a huge amount of empathy for those who suffer because of it (which I believe to be all of humanity...). I have forwarded information about your charity to everyone on my e-mail list as well as several home schooling organizations here in the Austin area. I will be sending my contribution as well. Thank you, Sheri D, Houston, TX
Following my testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, MajGeneral Catto, CG of MCSC responded thus:
HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: SUBCOMMITTEE ON TACTICAL AIR AND LAND FORCES HOLDS A HEARING ON COMBAT EQUIPMENT IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN
JUNE 15, 2006
MAJOR GENERAL WILLIAM CATTO (USMC), COMMANDING GENERAL, MARINE CORPS SYSTEMS COMMAND
WELDON: General, you can make my day by simply saying that while you're doing whatever studies you're doing, 6,000 of the marines in theater, which I think are 20,000-something, are using these inserts. I'm not talking about the helmet test. I'm talking about the inserts that are certified for use, which your special ops recon people are using.
We will give you the money -- you already have the money. Let's put Dr. Meaders out of business. Let's buy these inserts and make them available for the troops today. We're with you. Democrats, Republicans, you've got the money. Buy them. Let the marines use them as they're doing. And then if there is a study that shows we should improve it another way, then fine.
To me, if it makes the soldiers who are using these inserts feel comfortable, then we ought to do that. You still do the study, but let's do that now. And we're not going to take this out of the Marine Corps budget. I'm going to the wall, as I have for the Marines, and I think my colleagues would join with me.
CATTO: Congressman, you've always been a great supporter and your heart is pure and I love that. I will not go ahead and authorize the use of those pads unilaterally until I have the data that says what the right decision is.
Now, having said that, I'm not going to tell them they cannot use it, but the issue we've talked about here has been primarily comfort or a better protection against crash. I've got to have the data to make sure that we make the right decision before we as a service move one way or the other. And I'm not trying to be a roadblock here."
Read this excerpt from a Romanian Newspaper. The article was written by Mr. Cornel Nistorescu and published under the title "C"ntarea Americii, meaning "Ode To
"The Daily Event" or "News of the Day".
~An Ode to
Why are Americans so united? They would not resemble one another even if you painted them all one color! They speak all the languages of the world and form an astonishing mixture of civilizations and religious beliefs. Still, the American tragedy turned three hundred million people into a hand put on the heart.
Nobody rushed to accuse the White House, the army, and the secret services that they are only a bunch of losers. Nobody rushed to empty their bank accounts. Nobody rushed out onto the streets nearby to gape about. The Americans volunteered to donate blood and to give a helping hand.
After the first moments of panic, they raised their flag over the smoking ruins, putting on T-shirts, caps and ties in the colors of the national flag. They placed flags on buildings and cars as if in every place and on every car a government official or the president was passing
On every occasion, they started singing their traditional song: "God Bless
How on earth were they able to respond united as one human being? Imperceptibly, with every word and musical note, the memory of some turned into a modern myth of tragic heroes. And with every phone call, millions and millions of dollars were put in a collection aimed at rewarding not a man or a family, but a spirit, which no money can buy.
What on earth can unite the Americans in such a way? Their land? Their galloping history? Their economic Power? Money? I tried for hours to find an answer, humming songs and murmuring phrases with the risk of sounding commonplace I thought things over, but I reached only one conclusion... Only freedom can work such miracles.
6/25/06: Not lazy, just busy. Had a most productive time testifying before the House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Tactical Land and Air Forces (whew, almost ran out of breath saying it). The Chairman and members were very polite, attentive (helped to have Cher sitting with me), and took the problem head-on to the Marines especially.
Final result: Marines want more tests in spite of having the Army's test results when THEY decided to go with shock-absorbing pads, and the Committee ordered that the Department of Defense itself do the tests instead of the Marines, and do it RIGHT NOW.
Everyone had a problem understanding why MajGen Catto provides shock-absorbing pad suspension systems (instead of the old sling suspension) for Recon, Snipers, Special Ops and paratroops, but not for grunts facing IED's. Puzzlement for sure.
Anyhow, under best circumstances, the ponderous wheels of government may address this within 4-6 months, so we've got a lot of quick work to do providing the helmet upgrades to troops already out there facing the blast dangers unique to this war.
Should we wind up with excess funds when (and if) the Marines take over our job, we will consult with our base (all of you, via this website) and donate the remainder to a charity dealing with the needs of wounded troops and their families which we know does not charge an excessive admin/salary fee...after all, our fees for that are zero!
Semper fi, shipmates, and thanks for your support. My experience in DC proves that an ordinary doc from Texas can be heard in Congress and get results. Good thing, because we pay their dang salaries!
"Combat troops operate in a diverse range of operational environments and injury threats. These operational environments and injury threats place demands on protective systems to provide consistent protective performance throughout an expected range of temperature and threat magnitude. Protective helmets are no exception. The Helmet should be configured with fitting pads that possess the capability to attenuate blunt head impact forces. Previous combat helmets, such as the Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops (PASGT), the newer Marine LW helmet and the older M-1 "steel pot," were not required by their governing specifications to provide high tested levels of blunt impact protection. Protective helmets are typically required (ARMY ACH, Special Ops MICH helmets) to absorb energy in order to reduce head injury risk during blunt impact events. The energy-absorbing mechanism must be robust enough to reduce the impact energy to a low injury probability level throughout a realistic range of impact velocities and environmental temperatures, regardless of the helmet impact site." U.S. Gov't paper.
Operation Helmet Assists IAFF Members and Soldiers Serving in Iraq
May 26, 2006 – In an effort to keep our brothers and sisters serving overseas as members of the Reserve Forces and National Guard safe, the IAFF is supporting Operation Helmet, a program to provide soldiers with potentially life-saving upgrades to ballistic helmets – free of charge. [...]
"It is a disgrace that our government continues to send troops into combat without the proper equipment to do their jobs and come home safely," says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. In honor of the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, President Schaitberger has made a $5,000 donation to Operation Helmet to help pay for these desperately-needed helmet upgrades for the 407th Air Expeditionary Group based at Ali Base, Iraq, the unit in which former Attleboro, MA Local 858 President Paul Jacques, members of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts and other IAFF members are now serving.
These helmet upgrades replace the 1950s-era helmet support system, are more stable and decrease G-force transmission to the head and brain on impact.
The IAFF encourages its affiliates and members to help their brothers and sisters serving overseas by making a donation to Operation Helmet. Upgrades are $98.69 each, and contributions can be made for a specific soldier. Click here and go to “contributions” to make a donation.
Click here to visit the Honor Roll for a list of names of IAFF members serving in the armed forces.
5/28/06: From the front:
Bob: Received an email from a fellow IAFF Brother in Fallujiah. You have also sent him helmet upgrades. Thank you! Below is his email to me:
Jim and others, I just read Paul Jacques email stream and would like to thank you all for your support. I am currently in the Fallujah area serving with a number of our brothers from MA, RI, NY, MO, CT, and NH.
Back in January when we were doing our pre-deployment workup I contacted CAPT Meaders at www.operation-helmet.org and told him who I was and what I was looking for. I'm the senior corpsman for 165 members of a Marine Corps weapons company. To date, project helmet has donated 90 helmet liners to our company and he just emailed me to tell me there were more on the way.
This organization is incredible and they could always use more help.
We've already experienced at least one situation where the helmet upgrades have made a difference between a mild concussion and one that would have taken the Marine out of the fight.
Thanks in advance for helping this cause. It is greatly appreciated by all who serve. Very respectfully, HM1 John G/ Senior Corpsman 1/25 Marines, Weapons Co. Fallujah, Iraq
Army ACH complete story: Questions from a Congressman to the Army were answered as follows:
What is the Army's acquisition objective (AAO)? In other words, how many helmets do they want to procure?
Ø AAO is 1,100,000
What percent of the AAO has been met? How many helmets?
Ø 992,950 contract or 90%
Will the AAO be completed in FY06?
Ø AAO will be procured by FY06 and Fielded by FY07.
How much has been spent on the program to date?
Ø $304,673,000 has been spent on ACH to date
For clarification, how many have been fielded?
Ø To date, 370,000 have been fielded to the Army through the rapid fielding initiative (RFI) program.
May 22: Email from the front: Summary: Thank you America
I belong to a USAF special operations unit (combat control and pararescue) and while our operators are outfitted quite well those of us who are support personnel are not. We are often required to travel with the guys outside the wire and have received similar training - at least enough to make us combat savvy and not a liability to those we support - to what the operators have completed. At times it may be a simple helo trip to a base to drop off supplies and pick up items. Other times its a small convoy of just three or four of us going out to pick up the guys from a remote location. Bottom line: Although we are expected to operate within the same environment as the guys the funding just isn't there to provide support with the same gear. My CC has been trying to get upgrades but they are slow in coming and most of us can't afford to purchase our own gear set up - especially my enlisted folks. I will find out how many people need the kits and send you a list of names to prevent the number of emails flowing in from increasing even further - I can imagine how busy you must be with all of these requests!
I have forwarded your web site to about 30 of my family and friends in an effort to draw so more financial support for your worthwhile cause. I will also pass it along to my unit - and I am certain that they will pass it along to their family and friends as well. I want you to know we really appreciate what you are doing - it means alot to know how much folks care.
And from the Home Front:
Hello, thank you for your email. He is in the Marines and I did tell him to get in touch with you. He does not have the special pads for the helmet. I spoke with him today and he said that it would be wonderful to have these kits. He works on IED's exclusively and they lost one of their guys March 8th. One of the guys with their team was in the vehicle when this accident took place and suffered a concusion, he is a good friend of our family. My husband thinks this would be a wonderful thing for their team and would help so much. I hope that you will be able to help them out. Thank you so much. Holly
Letter To Gale Strassberg, Staten Island Marine Mom raising funds to provide helmet upgrades to her son's outfit...doing a wonderful job.
Words can not express the deep sense of thanks we have for you and Stanton Island Project Homefront. This week John was bracketed by two IEDs. The one behind was so close that he could feel the intense heat. The concussion of that blast felt like a 2X4 had hit him in the head. God was gracious, as he sustained no injuries. In talking with John, he credited his helmet [aka brain bucket] and the BLSS kit liner purchased by Staten Island Project Homefront in helping keep him from any injury.
We will always be indebted to you, your unflagging energy on behalf of all who serve, and the people, who make Staten Island Project Homefront the success that it is.
Greg and Tammy Maxie
Heart-warming (and wrenching) slide show. Poke this link.
Greetings From Rancho Mirage
By Ben Stein
Published 4/5/2006 2:29:42 AM
Dear Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, National Guard, Reservists, in Iraq, in the Middle East theater, in Afghanistan, in the area near Afghanistan, in any base anywhere in the world, and your families:
Let me tell you about why you guys own about 90 percent of the cojones in the whole world right now and should be damned happy with yourselves and damned proud of who you are. It was a dazzlingly hot day here in Rancho Mirage today. I did small errands like going to the bank to pay my mortgage, finding a new bed at a price I can afford, practicing driving with my new 5 wood, paying bills for about two hours.
I spoke for a long time to a woman who is going through a nasty child custody fight. I got e-mails from a woman who was fired today from her job for not paying attention. I read about multi-billion-dollar mergers in Europe, Asia, and the
In other words, I did a lot of nothing. Like every other American who is not in the armed forces family, I basically just rearranged the deck chairs on the Titanic in my trivial, self-important, meaningless way.
Above all, I talked to a friend of more than forty-three years who told me he thought his life had no meaning because all he did was count his money.
And, friends in the armed forces, this is the story of all of
Oprah Winfrey talks a lot about "meaning" in life. For her, "meaning" is dieting and then having her photo on the cover of her magazine every single month (surely a new world record for egomania ).This is not "meaning."
Meaning is doing for others. Meaning is risking your life for others. Meaning is putting your bodies and families' peace of mind on the line to defeat some of the most evil, sick killers the world has ever known. Meaning is leaving the comfort of home to fight to make sure that there still will be a home for your family and for your nation and for free men and women everywhere.
Look, soldiers and Marines and sailors and airmen and Coast Guardsmen, there are eight billion people in this world. The whole fate of this world turns on what you people, 1.4 million, more or less, do every day. The fate of mankind depends on what about 2/100 of one percent of the people in this world do every day -- and you are those people. And joining you is every policeman, fireman, and EMT in the country, also holding back the tide of chaos.
Do you know how important you are? Do you know how indispensable you are? Do you know how humbly grateful any of us who has a head on his shoulders is to you?
Do you know that if you never do another thing in your lives, you will always still be heroes? That we could live without
We are on our knees to you and we bless and pray for you every moment.
And Oprah Winfrey, if she were a size two, would not have one millionth of your importance, and all of the Wall Street billionaires will never mean what the least of you do, and if Barry Bonds hit ninety home runs it would not mean as much as you going on one patrol or driving one truck to the Baghdad airport.
You are everything to us, as we go through our little days, and you are in the prayers of the nation and of every decent man and woman on the planet.
That's who you are and what you mean. I hope you know that.
Love, Ben Stein
May 19, 2006
I just happened to catch you on CNN yesterday, and was so impressed with you and your organization. I follow what is going on very closely, and am very aware of the devastation of the head injuries. I am grateful for the opportunity to do what little I can. Our men and women are sacrificing so much, I do hope they know how much we think of them and pray for their safe return. Thank you again for all that you do . (ed; for all we AMERICANS do!)
May 18, 2006 Does it help our troops is more ways than one???
Thank you very much! Your organization is what makes America worth defending and helping others enjoy the life style we all do! I couldn't say thanks enough, Tyler
That’s amazing. I’m so overwhelmed right now. It’s people like you and your organization that make me proud to be here doing what we’re doing. I can’t thank you enough Bob. I know my shipmates feel the same way. I haven’t even told them that I requested the kits. I’m sure you know as well as I do that in the military as soon as a large group gets their hopes up…that’s when they’re let down. I’m happy to say that Operation Helmet has gone far far above and beyond any hopes that I h ad. Thank you so much. I’ll personally make sure that these kits are returned to me and turned over to the next mission.
I just returned from my second tour in Iraq and was issued the old suspension style helmet system. During my last deployment I spent time in all the worst places in the Al Anbar province of Iraq from Al Qaim to Ramadi and those helmets were definitely a boon to operational efficiency. Never mind the 40 lbs. of body armor, 25 lbs of weapon, ammo, and water; fighting with the old heavy, poorly suspended helmet was misery. Anything that can be done to ease the strain discomfort - however small is NOT insignificant. As a Sgt., I know how the smallest thing can inspire Marines to achieve goals that would be impossible for others. Some of the Marines have talked about how the helmets sink down over your eyes when you're in the prone position or how the sweat from your head will cause the old helmet to slip around your head while you're trying to run and duck for cover. Fixing this is not insignificant and can't be understated. I don't even need to mention the importance of the increase in ballistic protection! Thank God that America still produces people like you and the people who have donated to this worthy cause. I pray every day for my Marines still in harms way, thank you for trying to help them, too. Semper Fi!
18 May 06: From the front
Dear Sir or Ma’am, I came across your organization while reading an article on Military.com. I am currently deployed with a Surgical Company in Western Iraq until SEP/OCT 06. I have 86 personnel in the unit, we have personnel that routinely are directly in harms way both on the ground and in the air providing medical support. I understand that supplies are limited so if there are not enough kits for all our personnel whatever can be sent will be utilized by those more frequently go outside the wire. Thank you for all that you do in supporting us.
AND: The story picked up by America Supports You, the official DOD website for approved charitable organizations. Please note that all this publicity and the resulting shipments of helmet upgrades is due to the patriotism, support, and genuine love for our troops by the American public.
Servicemembers and veterans should be careful when making donations to solicitors claiming to be charities in support of our troops. Fraudulent activities associated with donations may come in the form of an email or a telephone call. Before making a donation, verify the legitimacy of the organization using the DoD website America Supports You.
May 10, 2006: We're (all of us) justifiably proud of the OVER 6,000 helmet upgrades we've sent, providing an extra measure of protection to our troops in harm's way.
Here's the DOD article of 8 May, 2006 on Operation Helmet. Remember, the story isn't about old Doc Bob, it's the American public and our brave, enduring troops that deserves the applause.
February, 2006: Grandson Justin's combat engineer detachment arrived at Camp KV (Korean Village) where his sapper unit is out in front (again), doing what brave men and women have done since our Nation's beginning that keeps us all safer here at home.
January 11, 2006: Still going strong. We're now over 4,500 kits sent to the troops. With the introduction of the the new Marine LW helmet, the upgrade only costs $71, while the older PASGT helmet used by the Air Force and Navy still use the full BLSS kit costing $99.0 apiece, shipping included for both.
Aug 7, 2005: Bombs Kill More Troops Than Bullets (click here for story one and here for story two).: News release verifies need: Over 65% of combat-related morbidity/mortality is due to bomb blasts. It is more important than ever to provide our troops with the best protection available.
Nov 10, 2005 HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEVIL DOGS! Today we went over 2,500 helmet upgrades sent to our troops, thanks to the generous contributions of ou r fellow Americans...you should be proud of yourselves! While the Hurricane relief effort is important, let's not forget that our men, women, guys, gals, old fogies, etc are still out there in Bad Country facing some real challenges just to stay alive.
July 7, 2005 Operation Helmet has now sent over 950 (July '05) BLSS helmet upgrade kits to the Marines, their Corpsmen (Medics) and other troops operating out of Camp Fallujah and elsewhere in Iraq. We are also responding to units deploying in the immediate future, especially Reserve units that seem to have a paucity of gear available to them. Just had to send a couple of dozen or so to Air Force guys as well, even though NO Air Force-specific donations have come in. These guys are doing convoy duty, standing guard, getting incoming 2-3 times a day...can't resist lending a helping hand.
Navy SeaBees are now doing convoy duty in Iraq and have been included in our shipments as well. Welcome aboard, Shipmates.
July 2005: Official notification by IRS that Operation Helmet has been approved for 501-3 public charity status, enabling all past and future donations to be tax deductible.
May 31, 2005: Air Force ground personnel stationed at Kirkuk AB and Balad AB have requested help in obtaining helmet upgrades for the PASGT helmets they wear for around 18 hours/day. We're trying to get a program going for them, have sent data to Air Force Association. On July 18th, 2005, AFA provided a $1,000 to support our Airmen. These kits were sent the same day the check was received.
News flash: The Marine Motor Cycle club is having a "Protect the Troops" day with a poker run, live auction, live music, food, and vendors on May 14 For further specific details, visit
GREAT NEWS: The Marine Motorcyle Club, http://marinesmc_texas.tripod.com, a grand bunch of beat-up old Marines, raised $19,500.00 FROM THIS ONE DAY EVENT. WHEN GOOD PEOPLE GET TOGETHER, GREAT THINGS CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED! Thanks to the Marine Motorcycle Club, Vietnam Vets, VFW, Cut and Shoot HOGS, The Marine League and a host of wonderful donors plus assorted beautiful people...you know who you are!
Some of the families whose loved ones have received the helmet upgrades have now sent contributions that will enable us to help others as well. Any amount is appreciated, as it all adds up to mo re troops protected. Thanks, concerned families and loved ones.
March 2005: Justin is home. A Company Commanding Officer of the 3rd Bn, 4th Marines in Iraq is now receiving the helmet upgrade kits and distributing to his Company and ultimately to the entire battalion. As well, a Gunnery Sgt in FSSG2, the unit replacing my grandson's unit of FSSG1, will also begin distributing helmet upgrade kits in Iraq. Our arrangement with these dedicated troops will provide the widest possible fair distribution of this sought-after resource.
Thank you for helping us help our troops. Your contribution just may well save the life of a trooper who could otherwise not afford and/or not even know about this added protection.
You and I both still have about 30,000 'adopted' grandkids in Iraq facing danger every day. In our small way, we can help get them home safely.
2005: We go
telephone call from our grandson in Iraq last night. His Combat Engineer company is
now helping rebuild streets and infrastructure damaged during the
Fallujah battle, distribute humanitarian aid, train Iraqi National Guard
troops and continue to fight remaining insurgents.
Unfortunately, one of his buddies was killed earlier during the 'big battle' when a remote-controlled IED was detonated as he entered a house. Two Marines were just behind him: one had installed the upgrade kit in his helmet and one had not yet done so. When the blast occurred, the Marine with no added helmet protection suffered severe fragment wounds to his head requiring medevac to Germany because his helmet was blown backwards, exposing his head to shrapnel. The Marine with the upgrade kit installed in his helmet came out with shrapnel embedded in his helmet instead of his brain. The helmet stayed firmly in place and absorbed the shock of the fragments. He has facial lacerations, but no severe wounds.
December 20, 2005. Justin called, he's going back with his Company in January, part of a massive, 25,000-strong replacement for LeJeune Marines. His Company has been brought back up to 100% coverage with the helmet upgrades, and we're still fielding requests from many others. We're proud of him but can't help but be worried fuss-budgets about the kid...actually the MAN, with one combat tour under his belt and facing another one with a new wife waiting anxiously, along with the rest of his family and ALL Marine parents.
DOLLARS AND SENSE!
According to a 1998 report by the National Institutes of Health, NIH, there are 5 million new head injuries in United States each year. Of that number 2 million sustain brain injuries that result in lifelong difficulties in areas of work, school and family. Most such individuals do not even require a hospital stay, yet they suffer such insidious impairments that lives are forever changed.
About 100,000 of the most severely injured never return to meaningful, productive lifestyles. And, an estimated 750,000 a year require hospitalization, and another 100,000 result in death.
An astounding 1.9 million individuals, the lion's share of such injuries, suffer serious brain injuries that are largely viewed as inconsequential. But, in reality such injuries cause devastating impairments that destroy lives just as effectively as more severe injuries.
The problem for many such individuals is that their impairments may not be immediately apparent. However, before long it becomes painfully clear that such individuals have been deeply changed in areas of thinking, mood and emotional control. Many such individuals never resume their pre-injury lifestyles. An alarming number spiral down into poverty and despair..
Estimated annual cost for all conditions includes medical costs and indirect costs associated with death and loss of income.
Condition Incidence Deaths Cost
Brain injury 2 million 100,000 $25 billion