JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. – January is Blood Donor Month not only recognizing those who donate, but also emphasizing the need for donations.
As troops continuously deploy to various locations around the world to ensure our country’s safety, the Armed Services Blood Program could see a spike in quotas to get blood directly downrange to those who need it most.
“We are honored to recognize the thousands of blood donors who roll up their sleeves each year to ensure our warfighters have the blood they need when it’s most needed,” said U.S. Army Col. Audra Taylor, ASBP division chief. “As 2020 brings us a new decade and new challenges, the one thing we can count on is you – donors – to be there for our service members in need.”
One unit of donated blood could save up to three lives downrange. In contrast, one person alone could need up to 100 units of blood to have their life saved. There is no set number of how much blood a person stateside or deployed could need, so all donations are vital.
Although the O-negative blood type is needed most because of its universal compatibility with other blood types, that doesn’t mean other types aren’t in high demand as well.
“Our advertising says we need ABs and O blood types especially, but we need all,” said Ralph Peters, ASBP blood donor recruiter.
The ASBP frequently hosts blood drives all over the Hampton Roads community. Langley Hospital hosts core drives every quarter, but in between those, units have their own blood drives as well. People are always encouraged to make it out to one of those blood drives if it better fits their schedule.
“Everybody is busy with their work schedules and personal lives and it is a sacrifice to give your time to something outside of what you normally have to do,” Peters said.
According to Peters, people generally step in when others are in need. It’s seen when there are natural disasters and tragic events. However, if donors stateside have this same initiative for the troops downrange, as well as the military in this region, medical services will be better equipped for any unanticipated events and have a better chance to save the service member or dependent’s life.
Unfortunately, not everyone is eligible to donate blood. This doesn’t mean they can’t be part of the initiative.
“You are donating through another person when you encourage someone else to donate,” Peters said.
If a person is ineligible, getting the word out and having someone donate in their place is still appreciated and life-saving for someone in need.
Getting more blood downrange is going to take commitment, direct commander’s support and a passion for saving fellow brothers and sisters in arms.
“We need sponsors, but we also need the commands to support the drives,” Peters said. “Treat them like any other required mission. You can’t make people donate but you can certainly emphasize it in your announcements, meetings and talks with supervisors and staff.”
Some units offer incentives for their troops to reach the blood unit goals such as a self PT day, early release or any other way that fits their specific mission needs.
“It’s not an easy thing to get 30 people to donate, but if we go into it with the mindset that we’re going to have 100 donations, we can definitely meet the 30 unit goal,” Peters said.
Blood drives are open to anyone with base access who meet all the Food and Drug Administration eligibility requirements:
• Must be at least 18 years old with ID
• Weigh at least 116 pounds
• Be well hydrated/have eaten prior
• Have been feeling well three days prior
• Cannot be pregnant or have been in the last six weeks
• No major dental work in prior three days/cleanings or fillings for 24 hours
Helping this region’s military and families, as well as the service members downrange, is a crucial mission that can be sometimes overlooked. Blood Donor Month shines a light on this need and emphasizes how each individual is vital to the cause.
To host a blood drive within a unit or for more information on upcoming drives, please contact Ralph Peters, ASBP blood donor recruiter, at [email protected]