We've gone through the Looking Glass, literally. Only this time it's not the Queen of Hearts who's saying "off with their heads," it's the King of Heartless, his majesty George W. Bush and his royal court of insane jokers.
King George dealt the hand and the knaves who volunteered to be his moden-day cursaders are left to play them. When they anted up they didn't know they'd be dealt a hand from the bottom of the deck.
The card at the bottom of King Heartless' deck is the Ace of IED Head Injuries. The King become the Joker-in-Chief when he says he supports the troops, then sentences the funds to supply them with proper helmets -- along with the heads in those helmets -- to death by guillotine.
From the minute an Iraq volunteer soldier querried former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld about why they had to scrounge through trash heaps to up-armor their equipment, the cruel King-in-Chief could have picked up his royal pen and scripted a signing statement he's so infamous for, decreeing that no soldier will heretofore go without the proper gear from helmets to armored vehicles.
Severe head injuries are the number one injury suffered by servicemen. The helmets issued to the troops were -- and still are -- woefully inadequate, offering the wearer little protection and if nothing else...give the wearer a massive headache...and that is neither pun nor metaphor...but fact.
Just ask Robert H. Meaders, M.D., Capt., Medical Corps, USN-Retired and a former Vietnam flight surgeon, how vital it is for our guys in the field to have the proper, well-fitting, comfortable helmets.
"Dangerous is a mild word to describe what can happen if you take off your helmet, because of severe headache while on urban combat patrol. It's a heaven-sent opportunity for snipers or the unpredictable IEDs, suicide vehicles, RPGs," said Meaders, founder of Operation Helmet.
Forget taking off your helmet for a few minutes of relief, the original helmets weren't adequate or designed to do the job. The newest version of the helmet has a liner that is so hard that it won't conform to the head.
Irate over the reprehensible treatment of soldiers by Bush and his sending our guys into battle ill-equipped and with minimal body armament, Meaders decided to deal a few cards of his own from the top of the deck.
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Giving up the liesure of retirement, Meaders works tirelessly from his home to make sure as many soldiers as possible receive the proper padded suspension system helmet liners they so desperately need.
It's no easy task Meaders has set for himself. The government and the uniformed services themselves are constantly throwing jokers into the deck with restrictions, red-tape, or taking Nancy Reagan's advice by plain old saying "no."
Meaders said the following is the protection offered by the up-graded helmet liners, which are provided FREE to the troops:
* Shock-absorbing pads keep the helmet from slapping the skull when hit with blast forces, fragments, or being tumbled along the ground or inside a vehicle. This decreases the chance of brain injury from IEDs, bombs, RPGs, vehicle accidents, falls, etc.
*Comfort - If it is comfortable, it will stay on troop's head longer and more often.
*Stability - Keeps the helmet firmly on the head and out of the eyes.
In true Navy tradition, high seas or not, Meaders carries on "shaking the money trees" for donations, writing, keeping in constant touch with those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, never giving up on making sure they get the helmet up-grades they need and up-dating his Web site: operationhelmet.org.
I believe the first I heard of Operation Helmet was on the Al Franken Show. I was infuriated by the fact that with all the taxes we pay and all the money thrown down the rabbit hole called Iraq, that we -- private citizens -- have to be asked to make contributions to provide vital equipment that the government should, without question, be providing.
I've been up-front with Meaders, telling him how much I resented it each time I've written out a small check to help the cause. He understands, but until King Heartless steps in and provides every fighting man and woman with the proper gear, it's up to us to help out.
"If we ever see that day," Meaders said, " Once all troops are provided the blast/impact protecting helmet upgrades, we will utilize residual funds to help other charities providing for rehabilitation and support of our wounded troops and their families."
"We are researching several charities and will support those we find to be well managed, little or at least minimal administrative fees and have a proven track record of helping our wounded warriors cope with their injuries and return to either civilian or military life," he added.
In the meantime, "Private citizens do it best," he said, "and are quick to pitch in when government fails, thank God. We've now sent over 34,000 helmet upgrades to combat troops and our files are replete with tales of survival thanks to the upgrades provided by Americans who take matters in their own hands We can join together and just 'get 'er done."
There are still more than 600 Reservists and 250 regular Marines who
don't have helmet upgrades and Meaders is still out shaking the money trees.
"While some Marines are given the upgrades prior to entry into Iraq, they seem to have forgotten the Reserves who are being surged," Meaders said.
"In a burst of brilliance, the Marines purchased 89,000 cheaper helmet
upgrades that the troops hate, try to get out of wearing, and are desperate to switch out for the high-quality ones we buy and send," he added.
To help out with a tax deductible donation: