Annie Humphrey, Senate staff member, donates blood with the Armed Services Blood Program. Staff members from the Armed Services Blood Bank Center at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, traveled to Washington, D.C., for the blood drive. All blood collected during the drive directly supports ill or injured service members and their families worldwide. (Courtesy photo by Giovanni Rodriguez)
WASHINGTON — The Armed Services Blood Program traveled to the U.S. Senate for the first military blood drive on Capitol Hill, March 20. Staff members from the Armed Services Blood Bank Center at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, set up a blood drive in the Dirksen Senate Office Building to collect blood from Senate staff members.
“We are honored to have this opportunity to hold a blood drive at the U.S. Senate,” said Navy Lt. Stephanie Golla, ASBBC director. “This will continue to open relationships with higher organizations and allow leaders to give back to the troops.”
Ami Sanchez, Senate staff member, has donated blood with the ASBP since 2014. However, she’s always had to travel to other locations to do so.
“Here in the Senate, we host the American Red Cross blood drives on a regular basis. I’ve been working here for eight years, but had never seen an ASBP blood drive here. I wanted to change that,” Sanchez said. “It’s such a small act – to donate blood – but it really can save lives.”
Because the ASBP is a government organization, policy requires that all blood drives are conducted solely on federal property. Once Sanchez learned this, she knew that a blood drive on Capitol Hill would be a good idea.
“Luckily, our Senate Office of Education and Training-Health Promotion staff are amazing and were absolutely willing to host one,” Sanchez said. “After that, it was just a matter of connecting the right folks within the ASBP and the Senate Health Promotion Office and the rest is history.”
According to Shawntel Trowell, ASBP blood donor recruiter for the ASBBC, “all blood collected at this blood drive will directly support ill or injured service members and their families worldwide.” Over the course of the six-hour blood drive, 72 donors signed in and 56 units of blood were collected.
One of those donors was Ben Bell, a Senate staff member.
“I came out today to donate blood because about nine years ago I had surgery and it was during that time I ended up getting a lot of transfusions,” Bell said. “So I figured this was a great opportunity to give back through blood and for the cause of our armed forces.”
“It’s a small thing for somebody donating,” Sanchez said. “It takes less than an hour, but it can mean the difference between life and death to somebody needing blood in combat. Additionally, because the ASBP is limited to hosting blood drives on federal property, they automatically have a smaller pool of potential donors than other blood service organizations. So it’s even more important for those of us who can donate, that we donate through the ASBP.”
“It was such a pleasure to work with everyone at the Senate for this blood drive,” Trowell said. “Overall, it was a successful day, and we are looking forward to doing this again.”
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 program or to schedule an appointment to donate, visit the ASBP website.