The subject was whether to modify helmets for soldiers in Iraq, but all eyes were on Cher.

As photographers clicked away, the singer and actress entered a Capitol Hill hearing room through a back door 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to start. The hearing soon got under way.

Cher has donated more than $130,000 to the group Operation Helmet, which pays about $100 to modify the inside of soldiers' helmets to make them better able to absorb shock from a bomb blast.

Cher, wearing a white lace top under a black pant suit, looked solemn as she sat behind the group's founder, Dr. Bob Meaders, while he testified. Meaders said she didn't want to cause a distraction by testifying herself.

Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, noted that Cher's ex-husband, the late Rep. Sonny Bono, had served on the subcommittee. He called it a "special irony and really great tribute" to have her there.

The Army now equips its soldiers with padded helmets designed to be shock absorbent. The Marine Corps has commissioned a study to determine whether to change its helmets but has said the ones Marines use now are effective.