ASBP: Cadets Keep the Army’s Winning Streak Going by Donating Blood
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Cadets Keep the Army’s Winning Streak Going by Donating Blood

01/23/2017
By Dave Conrad, ASBP Blood Donor Recruiter, Fort Hood, Texas
The first major Armed Services Blood Program blood drive of the New Year was held at Eisenhower Hall at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., Jan. 9-12, continuing 16 years of tradition. The blood drive also coincides with the annual observance of January as National Blood Donor Month.

The annual ASBP blood drive at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point is the largest, most successful drive of each year. Last year, the academy community donated 1,855 units of blood, and this year, the ASBP wanted to keep the momentum of the Army’s victory from the Army-Navy football game going to collect more than 2,000 units over the course of four days.

“This year’s target is 2,000 units,” Maj. Ronnie Hill, director of blood services at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center and the officer in charge of Fort Hood’s Robertson Blood Center, said.

Fort Hood plays a crucial role in the blood drive at West Point.

“All blood collected (at West Point) is shipped (to Fort Hood),” Hill said. “We process the units, ensure the testing and donor information is correct and will ship the units forward to medical centers, VA hospitals and other DOD and government partners.”

At the Robertson Blood Center, Fort Hood staffers, with help from borrowed manpower from eight other installations’ blood centers, worked exclusively to process and prepare the units for shipment. The donor center was closed during the blood drive, but reopened on Jan. 17 for normal duty hours and donations.

On Jan. 9, the Robertson Blood Center received a record shipment of 290 units for processing. Hill said he expected that number to double by Friday.

Annually, more than 20,000 units of blood collected at Fort Hood and its satellite facility at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., are processed and shipped out from the Robertson Blood Center, Hill added.

As the official blood program of the U.S. military, the ASBP is a tri-service organization responsible for providing blood and blood products to deployed service members in the heart of the battlefield.

“We need as many people as possible to come and donate because while our main donor pool goes away for holiday block leave, the need for blood doesn’t,” Army Maj. James Burke, the officer in charge of this year’s drive, said. “Donating blood is one way everyone can pitch in and help people recover from illness or injury. It doesn’t cost anything but a few minutes of your day and the benefits are lifesaving and life-changing.”

Blood collected on the first days of the drive will be used to meet the military’s downrange missions; while blood donated later in the week will be used at Department of Defense treatment facilities at home and abroad.

“This blood will touch just about anyone in the DOD who needs blood,” Hill said.

The West Point blood drive is an all-hands and paws on-deck effort.

This year, therapy dogs from Hudson Valley Paws for a Cause attended the drive to take some of the stress out of the donation process.

“It was very rewarding for us to help out. I know the dogs were a comfort to the employees as well as the donors,” Kathy Shuck, who accompanied therapy dogs at the 2016 drive, said in a release on the Paws for a Cause website.

Therapy dogs are personal pets that have been trained, tested and evaluated with their handlers to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, nursing homes, retirement homes, hospices, schools, disaster areas and to those with special needs, according to the Hudson Valley Paws for a Cause website.

All donors received a long-sleeved ASBP T-shirt and random giveaways were held throughout the drive. Additionally, the first 500 donors also received an ASBP water bottle.

The blood drive, like those hosted on Fort Hood, was open to all service members, their family members, DOD or federal civilian employees, retirees and U.S. citizens over the age of 18. Donations from non-DOD civilians who fit the eligibility criteria and have the ability to access the blood drive location were also accepted.

Those who were unable to donate in New York have ample opportunities to donate at Fort Hood throughout the year.

Hill said blood donations on post are another example of Soldiers helping other Soldiers.

“This is us all coming together to take care of our own,” he said. “This makes us self-sufficient as our own entity.”

Continued support of the ASBP also keeps an extra burden off the outside blood supply as the military’s constant need for the immediate availability of blood and blood products down range could put a strain on the blood supply for the population at-large.

“Our unique needs could adversely affect the outside blood community if we are not self-sufficient,” Hill said.

The ASBP also has the ability to rapidly process and send forward units.

“We support a very specific population,” Capt. Nathan Baker, deputy director of the Robertson Blood Center, said. “No one else has the logistic capabilities we do.”

Military members, family members and the staff at Robertson Blood Center have a vested interest in the continued success of the ASBP.

“This touches us more intimately,” Baker said. “That gives us the impetus and motivation to give back.”

To learn more about the 2017 West Point blood drive, upcoming Fort Hood collections or to schedule a blood drive, contact David Conrad, ASBP blood donor recruiter for the Robertson Blood Donor Center, at david.m.conrad4.civ@mail.mil or 254-287-3989.

About the Armed Services Blood Program
Since 1962, the Armed Services Blood Program has served as the sole provider of blood for the United States military. As a tri-service organization, the ASBP collects, processes, stores and distributes blood and blood products to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and their families worldwide. As one of four national blood collection organizations trusted to ensure the nation has a safe, potent blood supply, the ASBP works closely with our civilian counterparts by sharing donors on military installations where there are no military blood collection centers and by sharing blood products in times of need to maximize availability of this national treasure. To find out more about the ASBP or to schedule an appointment to donate, please visit www.militaryblood.dod.mil. To interact directly with ASBP staff members, see more photos or get the latest news, follow @militaryblood on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and Pinterest.  Find the drop. Donate.

The Armed Services Blood Program is a proud recipient of the Army Maj. Gen. Keith L. Ware Public Affairs award for journalism.