By Mr. Perry Jefferies (Army Medicine)September 25, 2009
FORT HOOD, Texas (ASBP, September 18, 2009) - The partnership between today's expeditionary Army, post communities, and families is both effective and flexible, as a recent Armed Services Blood Program (ASBP) blood drive at Fort Hood demonstrated.
Kerry Rodriguez, the mayor of Fort Hood's McNair Village, contacted the ASBP's Robertson Blood Center at Fort Hood to arrange a blood drive in support of deployed troops and their family members. She understood that with many Soldiers deployed from Fort Hood, family members could help ensure troops have all the supplies they need by donating blood. She initially planned for a small community blood drive at the community center.
Mrs. Rodriguez, a native New Yorker may not be a big fan of everything Texas - "I'm not too happy about the weather and the creatures" - but she works hard for the Fort Hood community. She has spent nearly six years in the Killeen - Fort Hood area with her husband, an avionics repair technician. "I was thinking about something to do for September 11. I tried to give blood then and was turned away. Eight years later I have decided to try again."
As the mayor of one of Fort Hood's 12 family housing communities, she often works in partnership with the assigned Community Life Non-commissioned Officer, Staff Sgt. Michael Massimino. As they planned the blood drive, he involved his chain of command from the 69th Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Brigade. True to their motto-Swift and Sure-the brigade identified many Soldiers eligible to donate blood. When it appeared that more donors might report than could comfortably fit inside the community center, the blood drive was moved to the Robertson Blood Center, a state-of-the-art blood collection, processing and testing facility in the heart of Fort Hood.
Once the 69th ADA Brigade became involved in the drive, the leaders and Soldiers offered their whole-hearted support to the drive. Knowing that many of their comrades are deployed around the world on contingency operations and in harm's way they turned the small drive into a brigade level event.
Some of the donors were experienced, like Lt. Col. Chad Skaggs, commander of 1-44 ADA Battalion or Pfc. Scott Sparks, a Systems Maintainer with 1-44 ADA Battalion. He said, "I always give blood when I can. I always give to the military."
Others were first time donors like Pfc. Bradley Altom, an Avenger Crewmember from Echo Battery, 1-44 ADA Battalion. "I am giving because people need it and I am going to Iraq soon." Soldiers who deploy to Iraq must wait one year after their return before they can donate blood. On posts like Fort Hood, which routinely deploys thousands of Soldiers, this can affect blood collections in a big way.
This drive was very successful. In all, nearly one hundred potential donors reported to the center and over sixty units of blood were collected for worldwide shipment. Mrs. Rodriguez relocated her office to the donor center's cantina for the day, greeting the donors who were both military and family members with cookies, drinks, and her heartfelt thanks. She credited Staff Sgt. Massimino with much of the success. "He is so helpful and involved in every activity. He is really a great Community Life NCO."
Because of their partnership, the blood drive was a success and a fun event for both the Soldiers and the community. "It's been eight years but I gave blood today," beamed Kerry Rodriguez.
To find out more about the ASBP or to arrange a military blood drive, visit the official web page at www.militaryblood.dod.mil.