GarryOwen conducts blood drive for deployed Soldiers
February 5, 2013
Montclair, Calif., native Sgt. Maj. John Pulido, the operations sergeant major of the 1st Squadron, 7th "GarryOwen" Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cav., said Spc. Jessica Sarandrea was losing blood faster than what was available.
In an effort to prevent similar tragedies for currently deployed comrades, GarryOwen conducted a blood drive Jan. 29 and 30, at their squadron headquarters, here.
The story of Sarandrea is just one fallen Soldier that Pulido remembers and believes that if there had been enough blood available, she would have made it.
"We are all one team," Pulido explained. "If this is going to help our brothers and sisters and can save lives, this is more of our duty to help to save their lives. It gives us a chance to volunteer our time based on our (operational tempo) and one of the best ways to give back -- blood."
The Armed Services Blood Program, a joint health agency who provides blood products for military personnel and their families worldwide, provided people to support the GarryOwen goal of 60 units of blood for Troopers in Afghanistan.
The GarryOwen family returned from their most recent deployment June 2012 after the Iraq drawdown and a six-month stay in Kuwait, creating a stronger influence in veterans who donate blood.
"I am proud to be able to support my brothers and sisters downrange," said two-time Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran Sgt. Andrew Bunch, a Waynesboro, Tenn., native and an intelligence specialist assigned to GarryOwen. "This is the first time I have had the opportunity to donate blood, I would do it again."
Although some people may feel a sense of pride for donating blood, it isn't their only source of motivation.
"Based on my past experiences of being deployed, I know that the little things like this will help save lives," said Pulido. "And until someone actually experiences that, they don't know how important blood is."
Although the squadron made it easily accessible to Soldiers, not everyone was eligible to donate. There are certain criteria one must meet before being allowed to contribute.
In order to donate, the volunteer must be 18-years of age and weigh at least 110 pounds, Pulido explained.
"There are many other parameters," Pulido continued. "Obviously if you just got a tattoo or just returned from Afghanistan or Iraq you have to wait a year. If you lived in Europe for a certain amount of time you aren't allowed to donate sometimes for the rest of your life."
With the majority of our deployed Soldiers in Afghanistan, Pulido and the GarryOwen command team deemed it appropriate for their donation to be shipped there.
"I am current with the times and what is going on over there," Pulido explained. "So we chose to send it there. It will be en route to our brothers and sisters in three to five days."
The squadron's goal was to receive 60 units of blood over the course of two days, but more than exceeded that number at the end of the first day. At the completion of the drive, GarryOwen successfully collected 172 units of blood.
"The success is a credit to the troop command teams," Pulido commented. "Getting out the message of the importance of donating and the purpose of what our blood will be used for."
The squadron plans on doing a blood drive quarterly with a goal of 1,000 units for the calendar year.
For more guidance on eligibility pre-requisites visit militaryblood.dod.mil or the Robertson Blood Center located on 761st Tank Battalion Avenue.