The Armed Services Blood Program (ASBP) can now accept blood donations by people other than active-duty service members, their immediate Families, retirees and Department of Defense (DoD) employees.

The new DoD policy on blood donations by non-DOD individuals comes in response to a need by the military for specified blood products and the desire to accommodate those previously ineligible who wish to donate blood to the military during this time of war.

"We are very grateful for the support shown by citizens who were willing to seek change in order to support their troops," said Navy Commander Michael C. Libby, director of the ASBP.

"While the need for blood within the military is a fraction of the need the civilian community faces, blood is still perishable and can only be replenished by volunteer donors," Libby said.

To ensure that this policy change does not infringe upon community blood needs, the ASBP is working closely with its civilian counterparts - America's Blood Centers, the American Red Cross, and the American Association of Blood Banks, or AABB - to illustrate the critical need for regular donations, as opposed to one-time large scale donations that might go unused.

"There have been times when donors, motivated by the understandably strong desire to give, have overwhelmed donor centers with their offerings, typically following a natural disaster. This creates a stockpile of donated blood that cannot be used within the expiration period," Libby said. "When you donate blood regularly, you truly contribute to a continuous flow of life."

"Although there are 22 military blood donor centers throughout the United States, there are also countless community and hospital blood donor centers that not only provide blood to hospitals and clinics to meet civilian needs, but also to provide for Service members and their Families," added Sharon Pavlovsky of America's Blood Centers.