The 5th Armored Brigade, First Army Division West, and the Fort Bliss Armed Services Blood Program (ASBP) held a blood drive on Fort Bliss, Texas, May 16, 2021.
Blood drives are important because they provide quality blood products for service members, veterans and their families in both peace and war. For 5th AR BDE, preparing Soldiers to go into harm’s way isn’t merely a cold, mechanical process; rather, it’s a dedication to individuals’ strengths and needs, focused on achieving the mission.
Ms. Jennifer Torres Aponte, a laboratory technician with ASBP said the blood drive is a weekly event with a set quota for each week, and the blood products are also used for patients of all ages for various reasons such as: battlefield injuries; a child with cancer; a family member in need of heart surgery, and more.
“I believe it is important because it helps out our battle buddies downrange,” said Pvt. Cody Raleigh, a Soldier in the advanced individual training phase of initial training (AIT) on Fort Bliss.
While some Soldiers learned about it through their leadership, some said they learned about it when they saw the blood drive bus.
Aponte said that leadership plays a vital role in informing their units about the importance of blood drives, and when and where it is happening ahead of time to ensure they take the opportunity to support the program.
In addition, the blood drive provided an experienced training environment for service members training to become laboratory technicians in the AIT phase on Fort Bliss.
“I feel kind of excited because this is a more hands-on section of our training,” Raleigh said. “In the first six months of our phase one, it was a lot of book work and tests, but here, we are kind of like hands-on learning and seeing what we were taught.”
Aponte mentioned that the blood drive experience will help AIT Soldiers gain real life experience on how to do their job as professionals. More importantly, it will prepare them for various military operations.
To ensure transparency, the blood drive was conducted step by step to ensure donors and AIT Soldiers understood every single step throughout the process. It was time efficient, and a simple process.
“It was really smooth,” said Capt. Scott Wolfe, a blood donor, assigned to Task Force Viper, 5th AR BDE. “I think I was in and out in about 20 minutes. So that is a pretty good time.”
Aponte expressed that taking a little time to donate blood makes a big difference, and goes a long way in saving the lives of service members, families and friends.
The ASBP donor center is located at 2489 Ricker Road, Fort Bliss, Texas, and it is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. every weekday. Donor centers are also available on various military installations.