In keeping with January being National Blood Donor Month, the Armed Services Blood Program, or ASBP, recognized Fort Huachuca as the number-one contributing blood donor to the Blood Donor Center at Fort Bliss, Texas, in 2013. On Tuesday in Eifler Fitness Center, ASBP announced 697 pints of blood — more than 87 gallons — were collected on post last year. This is the second year in a row Fort Huachuca came in as the top donor.
Jerry Proctor, deputy to the commanding general, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca, accepted the award. He described blood donation on post as a “win-win situation” due to the young Soldiers on post learning that Army culture is one of giving to something bigger than the individual.
“They come in and they give blood, and deep down inside, not only does it change them … but there is a change in that, ‘I have given and I made a difference.’” Proctor said. “That blood is going to be used somewhere to make a difference in someone’s life. So this is important for every single thing you can think of in the fact of giving, saving, learning about how to give in the world.”
Others recognized during the ceremony included Whitney Cordero, blood donor and former Fort Huachuca blood drive volunteer coordinator for ASBP since 2010, and Command Sgt. Maj. James Ramsey, 111th Military Intelligence Brigade command sergeant major, whose Soldiers provided the most blood donations.
“I’m pleasantly surprised at how great this community is to come out and support the program,” said Maj. James Burke, officer-in-charge of the Fort Bliss William Beaumont Army Medical Center Blood Donor Center. “I think they understand the need for blood because blood can only come from one source, and that’s you and me. With all the technology in this world, we still cannot make blood; it has to come from human donors.”
After the ceremony, ASBP kicked off their first blood drive of the year on the installation, also inside the Eifler Fitness Center. Each donor contributed 450 milliliters of blood.
While giving blood took between five and 10 minutes, Jeff Rodriguez, medical technician, Fort Bliss Donor Center, noted the donors needed some time beforehand to complete paperwork, get registered, and follow a pre-screening process of going over medical records and getting vitals checked. After donating, they were welcomed to their choice of cookies, juice and a free T-shirt.
“I like to be helpful and know my blood will go directly to service members who need it on the battlefield,” Spc. Sammie Jean Bell, Company F, 309th Military Intelligence Battalion, said as she had blood drawn.
For donors such as Roger “R. B.” Sayers, retired Army and Tucson resident, blood donation is a routine contribution. From Sept. 24, 2007, to Tuesday’s blood drive, Sayers has made 27 donations, amounting to more than three gallons.
He started giving blood after feeling guilty for not doing more to support Soldiers after his 20 years of service. For Sayers, the contribution is a challenge due to his fear of needles.
He explained the answer to conquering his fear is “mind over matter.” Sayers’ advice for young Soldiers is to donate blood now, because no one knows when they will need it.
According to Lori Kuczmanski, ASBP donor coordinator, ASBP is the official blood bank of the military and consists of the Army, Navy and Air Force. The Army makes up approximately 50 percent of that mission. The Fort Bliss Blood Donation Center is one of 23 blood donor centers nation-wide.
“We want to thank Fort Huachuca for contributing and to let them know that their donations have directly helped our service members and their Families world-wide,” Kuczmanski said.
For more information on the Army Services Blood Program or to schedule an appointment, go to www.militaryblood.dod.mil.