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Cher's Hill Appearance Draws Eyes ... to Helmet Safety Issue

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.