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National Blood Donor Month
Blood IS a Care Package
By Lori A. Kuczmanski, ASBP Blood Donor Recruiter, Fort Bliss, Texas
Stephanie Tyson, a military spouse and veteran proudly shows off her pint of O-negative blood at the 7th annual Fort Carson, Colo., blood drive. Tyson donated to the Armed Services Blood Program in recognition of her deployed husband. (Photo by Lori A. Kuczmanski)
Parents, spouses, retirees, community members, civilians and service members alike all came out to support the seventh annual Fort Carson, Colo., blood drive to show their support for service members around the world.
For Kari Etchells, a member of Blue Star Mothers of Americas, Inc., she said sending care packages is a great way to support the military. But she has another simple way of supporting her son, who is currently stationed at Fort Carson—donating blood to the Armed Services Blood Program.
According to Etchells, donating blood means “saving a life, versus sending a care package, so service members can have the opportunity to come home.”
Etchells said that her donation honors her son who has deployed twice—once to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. She also honors her nephew who is currently serving in the Marines. But at the end of the day, her donation to the Armed Services Blood Program will save a life. All blood donated to the military blood program directly supports ill or injured service members, veterans and their families worldwide.
Blood is perishable and has a shelf life of only 42 days. Because blood may be needed at any time, especially in theater for emergency situations, the blood supply must be constantly replenished to keep blood fresh in case it needs to be used. This makes regular donors like Etchells vital to the Armed Services Blood Program.
“[We do] whatever we can do to support the military,” said Etchells. “Our guys are deployed and we need to support them in any way we can.”
Sending a care package to a deployed service member is fun and a great way to thank them for their service; however, donating blood to the military blood program is a lifesaving care package.
“[Donating blood] makes me feel good. [For many people], if you don’t have someone deployed, you don’t know where to send packages. [By donating blood], you are helping anybody [who needs it],” said Etchells.
Stephanie Tyson, a military spouse, had to wait one more week before the return of her husband, who was serving his ninth deployment. A veteran herself, Tyson doesn’t know any other way of life when it comes to dealing with multiple deployments.
“Deployments are the nature of the beast,” said Tyson. “I knew what I was getting into and I don’t know any other way to be married.”
Having a robust sense of pride, Tyson wanted to contribute to the fight and sought out to donate blood, despite her small veins. Having the universal blood type of O-negative, she felt compelled to help service members serving in harm’s way. Once her donation began, she was happy she was donating blood for someone in theater.
With less than a week before Tyson’s husband was to return, she hoped to bring the same hope, joy and happiness she was feeling to someone else’s family.
Smiling as she donated her “care package” of blood, Tyson was happy she did her part for someone else and hopes the happiness she felt from donating brings the same feeling to another family.
“I take very seriously the lives that are lost overseas and if a pint of blood can make a difference in the amount of joy I get from a homecoming and allowing another family to have that joy, then I would like to be able to do what I can to bring that joy to people,” said Tyson.
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