Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
How do I send a kit to a specific soldier/sailor/airman/marine? The easiest way is to send a check to Operation Helmet, c/o Dr Bob Meaders, 74 Greenview St., Montgomery, TX 77356. Include the troop’s complete address, either stateside or APO/FPO. Please use the mail-in form to help speed things along.
You can also use the PayPal or a credit card to “Make a Donation“. Enter the trooper’s name in the ‘Shipping’ info, with their complete address, once again either stateside or FPO/APO. When PayPal sends the money, we use that address to ship the kit to the trooper. The PayPal site will ask you for personal credit card data later on in the process. We honor all ‘specified’ donations entered as ‘shipping information’. Please note: donations for a specific individual do not normally meet the IRS charitable criteria. Using a single point of contact within a unit to distribute kits would meet those criteria. Please contact your tax advisor or accountant for specific information and advice.
The letters “APO” or “FPO” must be alone in the “City” field. The “AE” is in the drop-down list of states (after WY).
How long does it take to get a kit to a trooper? Checks clear the bank in 24 hours. PayPal sends the funds (minus their fees) in about 3 working days. Once funds have cleared, we email the order for your trooper’s kit and it ships that day. If the kit is being delivered in the US, then they are shipped via UPS Ground which takes less than 5 working days to reach the destination. If the kit is being shipped to Iraq or Afghanistan, it is shipped via USPS to the Army or Fleet Post Office (APO/FPO). We are seeing an average of 10-14 days start to finish.
What is Operation Helmet? A: A nonpartisan, charitable grassroots effort that provides helmet upgrade kits free of charge to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Operation Helmet is a certified 501-c-3 public charity.
What is a helmet upgrade kit? A: A helmet upgrade kit now consists of shock-absorbing pads to replace the “GI” pads. Troops find the GI pads very hard and uncomfortable to wear for extended patrols and other duties. The pads cause headaches, necessitating removal of the helmet for comfort. That’s a bad idea with the unpredictability of IED’s, RPG’s, etc.
See our Helmets page for more information.
How does Operation Helmet work? A: We depend on your tax-deductible donations. For $28 (was $35) you can provide added safety and comfort for a trooper. But donations of any amount are welcome. You can designate the money for a specific branch of the military, a particular unit or an individual trooper.
Why are helmet upgrades needed? A: With the phase-out of the PASGT helmet, today’s military head armor all include shock-absorbing pads. The first 500,000 such pad kits ordered by the Army were of Oregon Aero (OA) manufacture that were well accepted and generated few if any complaints. For reasons known only to them, the Army and Marines began purchasing pads manufactured by Team Wendy (TW), a skateboard helmet manufacturer, for use in their combat helmets. Troops actually wearing the GI pads from TW tell us the pads are so hard they call them ‘bricks’. The GI pads cause headaches and high-riding helmets, both a source of distraction when looking out for snipers, IED’s, ambushes, and vehicle-borne explosives.
Why doesn’t the U. S. military pay for the upgrade kits? A: All branches of Service now use either the Army-style MICH/ACH helmet or the Marine Corps LWH. All helmets are equipped with the cheaper ‘brick’ pads that cause distracting head ache, instability of the helmet, and problems wearing night vision goggles (NVG…also known as NOD’s…night vision optical devices).
How can you tell if a helmet has been upgraded with GI pads or the preferred Oregon Aero pads? A: If the pad set was made by Oregon Aero, their name is stamped on the ‘Velcro’ side of the pad. If ZAP, MSA or just the stock number is stamped on that side, the pads are of Team Wendy manufacture. One can also take the pads out and feel them. The OA pads are ‘conforming’, that is both sides will feel comfortable to pressure. The GI pads have one very hard side and a thin inner ‘comfort’ layer and the whole pad’s interior is enclosed in a tough plastic ‘baggie’. The color is the same for both.
Does Operation Helmet receive funds from manufacturers of the upgrade kits? A: Operation Helmet was founded in 2004 by Robert H. Meaders, MD, a Vietnam veteran and retired Navy captain, after his Marine Corp grandson requested upgrade kits to make his company’s helmets safer in combat in Iraq. It is not affiliated with any manufacturer of upgrade kits. We don’t care who makes the pads, we just want them to take into consideration the need for troops to concentrate on their dangerous missions rather than needless headaches and the danger of removing helmets for comfort.
What is Operation Helmet’s relationship with the suppliers? A: Oregon Aero is to date the only supplier of upgrade kits that have stood the test of time. We have tried pads from different manufacturers, but troops’ response has always had us fall back on the top-of-the-line pads from that source. There is no financial connection between Operation Helmet and our vendors.
How much of my donation goes toward helmet kits? A: More than 99% of donations go toward helmet kits. There are no salary or payroll costs deducted and Operation Helmet’s books are available for inspection in our treasurer’s office by anyone who wants to see them. Doc Bob pays all the operational and fund raising costs of the home office and our volunteer associates in the field pay their own costs as well.
Has Operation Helmet been a success? A: To date, Operation Helmet has sent upgrade kits to over 76,000 troopers. The troops are still there, we’re still here, and need all the help we can get for new troop rotations. A former donor called and asked why we’re still operating since the war in Afghanistan is ‘over’. Our combat troops are still grinding it out every day and the war is far from over; read the news carefully and understand how politicians will twist the stories to make themselves seem more important to special interest groups.