WEST POINT, N.Y. (Jan. 10, 2012) -- Keller Army Community Hospital kicks off its support of the annual Armed Services Blood Drive today, at Eisenhower Hall at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., where all Cadets are encouraged to donate blood.

This blood drive, scheduled Jan. 9-12, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., is one of many across the country that helps provide quality blood products for service members and their families in both peace and war times. As a joint operation among the military services, the Armed Services Blood Program, or ASBP, has many components working together to collect, process, store, distribute and transfuse blood worldwide.

"We are proud to support this effort," said United States Military Academy Superintendent, Lt. Gen. David Huntoon. "It is critical to the success of our forces around the world and or veterans."

The U.S. Corps of Cadets is comprised of more than 4,400 men and women pursuing an undergraduate education and commission into the U.S. Army.

With the common bond of pride in their country and a strong belief in its founding principles of duty and honor, cadets are expected to participate in large numbers to donate blood to their fellow Soldiers.

"I usually come out and give blood every time we have a blood drive," said Zach Langhans, U.S. Military Academy Cadet. "This simple act really makes a difference in Soldiers' lives around the world. I'm glad I can help."

"Our nation's Soldiers deploy into combat worldwide to accomplish a myriad of mission, and unfortunately, sometimes are severely wounded and need blood products," said Col. Beverly Land, Keller Army Community Hospital commander. "With that said, it is only right that we, the Army community, do our part to insure there is an adequate supply of blood available for those injured in battle."

Due to many service members being ineligible to donate because of overseas deployment, the ASBP is limited to collecting blood only on military installations, ships, Reserve Officer Training Corps programs or other federal locations. As a result, a bulk of their blood supply comes from the Cadet corps, according to Armed Service Blood Program representative.

"This is one of the biggest blood drives we have here at the United States Military Academy," said Mary Mandia, Keller Army Community Hospital Blood Drive coordinator. "We had the highest blood donation on record since March 2003."

In 2011 the cadets donated 2,194 units of blood. Of this number, 845 units were shipped to Iraq and Afghanistan, and 1,055 units were sent to military and Veterans Administration hospitals, according to Mandia.

Once all blood donations are collected, the donations are transported by aircraft to Fort Gordon, Ga., for processing. The blood donations are then tested and shipped to theater and military hospitals within two days for sick and injured service members and their families.

For more information about the blood drive or ways to donate, visit the national website at http://www.militaryblood.dod.mil/default.aspx.

For information about Keller Army Community Hospital, visit http://kach.amedd.army.mil/index/index.html.