Soldiers’ donated blood accompanies their units to deployment sites
Blood donated at the North Fort Hood Mobilization Center by mobilizing Soldiers will be processed and shipped for use by service members in Kuwait, Afghanistan and other regions where U.S. forces are deployed. (U.S. Army photo by Nick Conner)
FORT HOOD, Texas — The North Fort Hood Mobilization Center is helping mobilizing service members protect their health and safety during deployments through a new, ongoing program.
Staff from Fort Hood’s Robertson Blood Center coordinated with the Mobilization Center to establish a mobile blood drive program to help deploying service members donate blood, which will accompany their units as they deploy.
“We saw an article in the Fort Hood Sentinel a couple of months ago, about the new and upgraded training facilities on North Fort Hood, and realized that we could provide a great opportunity for our Soldiers to donate blood before they became ineligible due to deployments,” said Army Maj. Ronnie Hill, director of the Robertson Blood Center. “Setting up a mobile donor site would help the Armed Services Blood Program by collecting blood and blood products, but it would also help the mobilizing Soldiers because the blood they donate will be sent to facilities in theater, where it will be available if it is needed while they are there.”
According to Hill, about half of all potential donors are ineligible to donate at any given time, mostly due to deferrals as a result of deployments and other geographic considerations.
Members of the North Fort Hood Mobilization Operations Branch staff were eager to get the program organized.
“Our community at North Fort Hood is a prime location since we are a transient site,” said Alfonso Lombardo, the operations officer at the North Fort Hood Mobilization Operations Branch. “We have units ready to mobilize, demobilize and train on a continual basis, bringing new Soldiers from all over the country who will be potential blood donors.”
Soldiers and staff from the Robertson Blood Center drove almost an hour in order to set up the mobile donor center. It takes the staff about 45 minutes to unload equipment from their cargo truck and set up the interview booths, health screening stations, donation chairs and recovery sections.
Soldiers on North Fort Hood were eager to participate in the ASBP blood drive.
“I’m a firm believer that donating blood saves lives,” said Army Sgt. Kara Clark, 77th Combat Aviation Brigade, Arkansas National Guard. “I especially like the fact that the blood we donate goes to our troops.”
HOW BLOOD REACHES DEPLOYED SERVICE MEMBERS
As a tri-service organization, the ASBP is responsible for providing blood and blood products to deployed service members in the heart of the battlefield. While ASBP blood recipients are most often deployed service members injured in the line of duty, the ASBP also provides blood for service members and their families back home and in military treatment facilities around the globe. Anyone receiving blood or blood products in a combat area will receive blood transported by the ASBP.