GRAFENWOEHR, Germany – The 500th Engineer Support Company sponsored an Armed Services Blood Program blood drive at the United Service Organizations center here at Grafenwoehr, Germany Feb 1-2.ASBP Europe blood donor recruiter Stacy Sanning said this year’s drive was especially important due to the global shortage of blood in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.“Blood donations are mission critical,” Sanning said. “Our military needs this blood ready and on the shelves so they can meet mission requirements.”The ASBP is the Department of Defense’s blood organization, serving military personnel around the world. The blood is utilized by service members throughout the world, such as deployed Soldiers, and is on hand with medics during real-world missions and live-fire exercises.According to Sanning, the coronavirus outbreak required volunteers and donors to take a few extra safety precautions. Staff and volunteers offered hand sanitizer at every station, took the temperatures of everyone in the blood drive, wiped down commonly touched surfaces, spaced everything at least six feet apart and spread out appointments through the day to maintain physical distancing standards.“Unfortunately, the reduced appointments mean we are able to see fewer donors than we used to see in a day, but we were very lucky to fill every appointment with help from our sponsors at the 500th ESC, the local Red Cross and military leaders,” said Sanning.U.S. Army Spc. Eduard Vasquez, assigned to the 500th ESC, passed out snacks and drinks to donors.“When I think of the Army, I think of a family, so any chance I can get to help out my fellow Soldiers or help out my community, I always take the chance to do that,” said Vasquez. “If something were to happen to me and I needed that blood, and the blood was ready and available for me, then that’s a great thing.”In the past, many people were not eligible to donate blood because of restrictions on time spent in various countries overseas or tattoos in non-regulated facilities. Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reduced these restrictions, allowing more people to donate blood.“Even local nationals living here in Germany their entire lives are eligible to donate with us for the first time in decades,” said Sanning. “That big change had a huge effect on our blood program, making more people eligible to donate blood than ever.”To find out if you are eligible to donate, or for more information, contact the ASBP Europe at DSN 314-590-5885, 06371-9464-5885, or online at www.facebook.com/ASBPeurope.