By Spc. Matt Kuzara/2nd Bde., 2nd Inf. Div. Public AffairsOctober 18, 2011
Because blood plays such a vital role in matters of life and death, organizations like the Armed Services Blood Bank Center make it their mission to provide ample blood supply for servicemembers and their Families, but this cannot be done without the support of Soldiers.
That is why Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division Lancers, took the time to donate at an ASBBC blood drive at 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment's headquarters Oct. 5 and 6.
"I came out to donate because I do it for my fellow Soldiers who are my brothers and sisters," said Spc. Jonathan Chavez, an infantry Soldier from B. Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment. "I know they would do it for me. So if I can save someone's life out on the battlefield by donating blood, that would be great." Specialist Justin Nachtweih, an Army medic with the 1-17 Inf. Headquarters Company, has personal experience.
"I'm a medic so I understand the importance of having blood on hand right away," Nachtweih said. "I feel fantastic, like I did something to help everybody out."
The most difficult part of the process is the decision to do it.
"It's really easy," Chavez said. "All you have to do is show up and they'll (ASBBC) take care of the rest."
Despite this understanding among Soldiers of how helpful and easy it is to donate blood, those who are charged with collecting the donations have found themselves fighting a constant battle to maintain their stores.
"Anytime there is a natural disaster or influx of combat casualties, people are more inclined to donate," said Staff Sgt. Isaiah Yslas, B Company, Madigan Army Medical Center, ASBBC. "But the normal stockpile of blood donations typically remains rather low because people don't see a need to do it."
Deployment rotations at JBLM also add to ASBBCs struggle with finding qualified blood donors based on restrictions on donations from recently deployed servicemembers. Lancer Soldiers are at a good stage in their rotation schedule.
"That's why we're here, because we found that there is a large donor population within 2nd Bde. that is eligible to donate," Yslas said.
As the line of Soldiers grew longer and longer, the servicemembers of the ASBBC knew that they had found a plentiful source of donors ready to do their part, adding more than 200 units of blood to the inventory.
"By far the largest blood drive I have done since I've been stationed here (in 2005)," Yslas said.
Yslas was not the only expert who was excited about the turnout.
"You guys kicked the norm out of the ball park," said Frank Wake, an Armed Services Blood Program phlebotomist. "The norm is about 50 to 60."
Individual Soldiers interested in donating can go to the blood donor center at the Madigan Annex facility on JBLM, Monday through Fridays, from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., even on days of no scheduled activity.