I recently came upon an article (March 14) in Stars and Stripes that, for a lack of better words, upset me. The headline was “Government to reconsider gay blood ban.”

The article went on to say, “The American Red Cross, American Association of Blood Banks and America’s Blood Banks ... have recommended loosening the restrictions to allow men who have abstained from gay sex for one year to donate blood.”

It also said, “Recently a group of 18 senators, lead by John F. Kerry, D-Mass., wrote to the Food and Drug Administration urging it to revisit the policy on donations by gay men, calling it ‘outdated, medically and scientifically unsound.’ ”

I don’t have a problem with the government wanting to loosen the reins on gay men being able to donate blood if it is “proven” safe. What I do have a problem with is, I haven’t been able to donate blood for 15 years now because I was stationed in Europe from 1993-1995, and the fear I may be carrying mad cow disease. Seriously?

Thousands of my armed forces compatriots would love to donate blood again because we know how many of our brothers and sisters in arms are dying on the battlefield and are in need of this lifesaving gift, but we’re handcuffed.

If any restrictions from donating blood need to be revisited, it is this one. How many people have died in the last 10 to 15 years from blood donations tainted with mad cow disease? How long do we have to wait before we can give blood? I’m pretty sure that if I haven’t had any symptoms of mad cow disease in the last 15 years, I’m not going to get any.

Lift the blood ban on mad cow disease!

Senior Master Sgt. Robert J. MartinAbu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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