With roots that can be traced back to World War II, the Army Blood Program has a proud history of providing quality blood products and services for soldiers, retirees and their families in both peace and war. The establishment of the program's blood collecting facilities, transfusion services and distribution units has tremendously improved healthcare on the battlefield. According to David White and Daniel P. Murphy, Ph.D., authors of an article titled "Battlefield Injuries and Medicine," during the World War II era, a severely injured soldier had about a 50 percent chance of surviving. Today, more than 50 years later, those odds have increased significantly and ill or wounded service members have more than a 90 percent chance of survival.
Shortly after World War II broke out in Europe, LTC Douglas Kendrick initiated a blood research program at the Army Medical School and served as chief of the research program until November 1944. In 1942, the Walter Reed General Hospital established the first military blood bank. Two years later, the Army had several hospitals that were able to collect whole blood to meet their own requirements.
Later, as the Korean War intensified, the blood supply from civilian collection agencies in the U.S. was not sufficient enough to meet all the military's blood requirements. As a result, the Armed Forces Blood Donor Program was founded in 1951, although it was not formally established by Department of Defense Directive 750.10-1 until Aug. 2, 1952.