Ford Motor Co. has finalized an agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense to donate 200,000 face shields to military bases across the U.S. and abroad to protect against the coronavirus.
The face shields are constructed from car parts and made in Michigan as part of Ford’s response to the pandemic crisis. Now they have been shipped around the world to locations including Fort Hood in Texas, the New Hampshire National Guard, the U.S.S. Ford aircraft carrier, Afghanistan and Syria, according to the Dearborn-based automaker.
“We know that our military has to stand ready to fight, regardless of COVID-19, and we just wanted to make a donation giving back to our service members,” Vanessa Benson, Ford’s military ambassador and a retired Army colonel, told Fox News.
The Department of Defense officially accepted the donation on April 28 deeming the face shields will be in the best interest of the military, according to a letter to Ford from Under Secretary of Defense Ellen M. Lord viewed by Fox News.
“This gift will benefit the Department by helping to protect DoD non-medical personnel participating in FEMA COVID-19 response operations,” Lord wrote.
The Defense Department valued the face shields at $5 each so Ford’s donation was worth an estimated $1 million.
Fort Hood, Texas, already received 50,000 face shields and West Point, N.Y. got their shipment of 30,000, which Ford hopes will be on display when cadets come back to campus and congregate on June 13 for their graduation from the U.S. Military Academy. President Trump announced he will be the commencement speaker.
“We hope to see them use [the face shields] for their graduation in June,” Benson said.
During the pandemic, Ford Motor Co. had to stop making automobiles for the first time since World War II, but reconfigured some of its southeast Michigan plants to make personal protective equipment and ventilators.
Trump visited the Ford plant in Ypsilanti Township on Thursday to thank the workers who stepped up during the crisis and returned to work to make life-saving equipment.
“In our nation’s war against the invisible enemy, the hardworking patriots here today answered the call to serve. You proved that the American worker is … ‘Built Ford Tough,'” Trump told the Ford workers, in a nod to the company’s slogan. “… You’ve made America proud and you’ve made Ford proud. And America is very proud of Ford.”
Ford started manufacturing the face shields March 23 at the Troy Design and Manufacturing in Plymouth Township, Mich. They’re made by automobile workers who volunteered to come back to work for the special project during the pandemic when in some cases they would have made more money staying home on unemployment.
In all, more than 1,000 Ford employees signed up to work at four southeast Michigan auto plants that have been converted to make ventilators, masks, respirators and face shields.
Since then, Ford has produced more than 18 million face shields, at a rate of about one every second to help essential workers and health care professionals during the pandemic. Ford shipped more than 15 million face shields to all 50 states and Puerto Rico to help with the growing need for personal protective equipment.
May is National Military Appreciation Month and the face shield donation is an extension of Ford’s ongoing military and veteran outreach campaigns, known as Proud to Honor.
“For this Memorial Day, we want to thank all those that are serving and, most importantly, remember all those that we have lost because freedom isn’t free in this country,” Benson said. “And we’ve had a lot of people who’ve had to sacrifice for us to have our freedom.”
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