March 26, 2020 —
If able, you can give blood.
USCG encourages members, civilians to donate blood
The Coast Guard encourages all members, if able, to donate blood through the Armed Services Blood Program or a local blood collection organization. At a time when we are feeling more isolated, this is a way to feel connected.
Treating COVID-19 symptoms typically doesn’t require blood products, but countless Americans rely on blood products every day just to stay alive. Since many communities are cancelling their blood drives due to coronavirus concerns, we are depleting our nation’s blood supply at an alarming rate. Blood cannot be stockpiled - it must be collected and used within a few months.
"Unlike many other contingencies that arise where the CG is in the lead, we are in a support role here. So when I heard the Commandant say, let’s help our communities any way we can, I figured this would be a good way to help folks in need," said CAPT Matthew Meilstrup, who went in to his local Red Cross earlier this week.
Blood donation is an essential service , and can be conducted even while under a shelter-in-place order. Coast Guard supervisors may authorize employees to donate blood during duty hours, if consistent with operations. Units are also encouraged to host blood drives; USCG headquarters will be holding one next week.
Blood collection is safe. There has never been a case of COVID-19 transmitted through the blood collection process and blood collection organizations have adopted additional protocols to ensure the safety of workers, volunteers, and donors. At his Red Cross location, CAPT Meilstrup said, "they used social distancing and temperature checks – you couldn’t even enter the facility if you had a temperature."
Donating blood while in uniform helps demonstrate that Coast Guard members are community leaders. To showcase that role, the Operational Dress Uniform and other "working" uniforms - including flight suits and the Navy Working Uniform Type III - are authorized during blood donation. Civilian members are encouraged to wear Coast Guard apparel when donating.
The need is real: donating blood will help prevent the U.S. having a health care crisis on top of the coronavirus pandemic. "The Red Cross had a steady flow, but there were empty tables – clearly they could have used more people coming in," said CAPT Meilstrup. "I gave blood to help out my neighbors, and I encourage everybody who can, to do the same."
IF YOU GO: Please post a social media photo of yourself donating in uniform using the hashtags #SemperDonors and #DonateBlood.