Civil Air Patrol Leader Becomes First Time Blood Donor to Inspire Others

Maj. Gen. Phelka challenges CAP members to roll up a sleeve and help patients in need during national blood crisis

“I wanted to help inspire other Civil Air Patrol members to give blood,” said Maj. Gen. Edward Phelka, national commander of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), civilian auxiliary to the U.S. Air Force.

Phelka made his first blood donation at an American Red Cross blood drive on Sunday, Jan. 16 in Novi, Mich. after hearing about the national blood crisis. As the leader of more than 56,000 volunteer CAP members, Phelka knew that he could make an impact by guiding others to donate blood.

The CAP is on track to meet a 10,000-unit blood donation goal by Feb. 14 through their Operation Pulse Lift. Members of the volunteer organization have been supporting blood collection throughout the pandemic in response to the call for donors and their longtime commitment to public service. The CAP, a congressionally chartered non-profit, was recently recognized is a longtime partner of the Red Cross.

Phelka’s motivation to donate was underscored by a family connection. “My mother donated blood for many years,” said Phelka. “Later, I saw her receive a unit of blood during surgery and made the connection about the importance of giving blood.”

A resident of the Detroit area, Phelka first joined CAP in 1987. As the highest-ranking CAP officer and CEO, Phelka is focused on carrying out the organization’s mission which includes serving communities across the nation and saving lives.

“The Red Cross is immensely grateful to Maj. Gen. Phelka and the entire Civil Air Patrol,” said Jacqueline Tullio, the regional donor services executive for the American Red Cross Michigan Region. “Lifesaving care can start with one generous volunteer blood donor making a donation.”

The Red Cross asks the country to roll up a sleeve to help ensure people receive the care they need. Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

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