FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Dec. 15, 2017) – It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Most people will share this holiday season with friends and family, gathered around the tree and opening that “it’s just what I always wanted” gift.
But others will spend the holidays in a very different way. They’ll be in a military hospital somewhere, recovering from an illness or injury. Some are less serious while others are clinging to life, hoping to get that “just what I really need” gift – a donated unit of blood from someone, somewhere who cared enough to give.
The Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center staff members wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, but hope the attitude toward giving doesn’t stop with putting presents under the tree.
“We hope it calls everyone to help us put blood in the arms of service members and their families who are recovering from illness and injury this holiday season,” said Army Capt. Patrick Kaer, Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center officer in charge. The Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center collects blood for the Armed Services Blood Program, the official blood collection agency for the U.S. military.
According to Marty Ricker, ASBP blood donor recruiter director, the need for blood remains as constant during the holiday season as it is the rest of the year.
“The Military Healthcare System, as a whole, requires 400 units of blood every day to meet routine operations around the globe,” Ricker said. “That means we need 400 units every day in December just as we did in April or June.”
Couple that with the fact that most of the Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center’s donor pool goes away the last two weeks of December, and it’s easy to see that collecting enough blood to meet the need is difficult during the holiday season.
Blood and blood products help patients of all ages: a child with a blood disorder, a teenager needing surgery, a Soldier injured on the battlefield or a retiree battling cancer. Each unit is critical. A single trauma victim can use 40 or more units of blood and one unit of blood can sustain a newborn’s life for two weeks.
“We need everyone’s help all year, but especially during the last two weeks of December,” Kaer said. “The service members in training here are our primary donor pool. Since they leave during Holiday Block Leave, our largest source of blood donations all but vanishes but the need for blood continues.”
To put things into perspective, Kaer said during the 14 days of Holiday Block Leave, the Military Healthcare System will require about 5,600 units of blood, and the primary donor pool at Fort Leonard Wood and other military training installations is gone.
“So, you see we’re pushing a big rock up a large hill and need everyone who can to come help bear the load,” Kaer said.
Anyone who has access to Fort Leonard Wood can come donate blood. They just have to weigh at least 110 pounds, be at least 17 years old and have been feeling well for at least three days before donating. It’s also good for them to be well hydrated and eat something before donating. They should also bring a list of foreign countries they’ve traveled to (be sure to include when, where and for how long), and a photo ID — military ID or driver’s license — to the donation site.
“This holiday season, we’re inviting everyone to celebrate with us,” Kaer said. “As all the relatives come in for Christmas, make donating a family affair. What better way to celebrate this wonderful, giving time of year than by giving someone a second chance at life or helping them recover from injury or illness.”
The Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center is located in Building 822 on Colorado Avenue, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. To get to the center from the Main Gate, follow the blue line to Nutter Field House or take Missouri Avenue to North Dakota and bear to the right at the post marquee. Follow North Dakota to Iowa Avenue and turn left. Follow Iowa Avenue to West 16th Street, across from Nutter Field House, and turn right. Follow West 16th to Colorado and turn right. The donor center is at the end of Colorado on the right side. Plenty of parking is available.
“We ask that you give us a call at (573) 596-5385 or e-mail our donor recruiter at email@example.com to let us know when you’re coming to donate and how many will be coming along,” Kaer said. “I thank each one of you in advance for donating and helping make this December the most wonderful time of year for everyone.”
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 and 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.
Editor’s note: Article provided by Carl Norman, ASBP Blood Donor Recruiter, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.