By J. Parker RobertsNovember 26, 2013
FORT RILEY, Kan. (Nov. 26, 2013) -- First Infantry Division Soldiers are known for giving their all whenever and wherever the need arises. This week, that need is here at home, and as always, "Big Red One" Soldiers are giving.
Before leaving for the Thanksgiving holiday, Soldiers and civilians are participating in the quarterly Fort Riley blood drive to support the American Red Cross Central Plains Region Blood Service on post. The drive began at division headquarters on Monday and will continue from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday at Long Gym.
"Things are going extremely well so far," said Cari Merrill, Communications Program Manager for the American Red Cross, who said the goal for the drive was to see 375 donors over the three days of the blood drive.
"Holidays are always a difficult time for blood collection, just because people take vacations, and you're spending time with friends and Family," Merrill said. "Sometimes people don't always keep their blood donation commitments or they get too busy and don't have time to make an appointment. And we understand that.
"So if you can come out and donate, we really need you to do that. Holidays are a tough time."
BRO Soldiers have been more than willing to donate.
"I always give blood," said 1st Lt. Will Milzarski, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div. "Here I've only donated twice, but up in Michigan, I think I'm at about three gallons."
Milzarski, who has been donating blood for 20 years, sees ample reasons to do so.
"If someone needs help, they need blood. My mom was killed in a car accident a while ago, back in 2000, and there wasn't any way to save her. However, blood and platelets and things like that are necessary for accidents like that," the first lieutenant said. "If one of my kids was in an accident, I'd want the doctors and medical folks to have the ability to treat them for everything."
After donating, Milzarski was treated to a free T-shirt and a pulled pork sandwich, the latter of which he said was going to be his favorite part of the experience.
Sgt. Jenna McKinney, 73rd Military Police Detachment, 97th Military Police Battalion, 42nd Military Police Brigade, said she could usually recruit about five people to donate. She encourages her friends, Family and fellow Soldiers to participate in blood drives.
"A lot of people who I find are on the fence, they're more afraid of the needle," she said. "And I tell them the worst part is probably the tiny little needle they do at the very beginning, not the really big needle."
McKinney said she also tells potential donors about the lives they can save by donating.
"It was good," the sergeant said about her time on the donation cot. "Everyone was really nice."
Those who miss the blood drive but still want to donate are in luck. "If you visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1(800) RED-CROSS, you can find donation opportunities wherever you may be," Merrill said. "You can enter in a ZIP code and find one that's convenient to you."