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GLWACH Commander Supports Military Blood Program
By Carl Norman, ASBP Blood Donor Recruiter, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
Army Spc. Derrick Frazier (left), Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center medial laboratory specialist, prepares Army Col. Christian Meko, General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital commander, to donate blood. (Photo by Carl Norman)
With more than 20 years of duty under his belt, including service in Iraq and Afghanistan and military treatment facilities across the United States, the current General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital commander has seen a lot.
In his rise through the ranks, Army Col. Christian Meko has developed a service ethic that says there are just some things that are part of serving. Donating blood is one of them. And he’s held true to that ethic, donating to the Armed Services Blood Program three times in his first eight months in command.
“I try to donate regularly and have done so all of my adult life,” Meko said. “I want to contribute to those serving in harm’s way.”
Knowing that the Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center, along with the other nine Army blood collection facilities around the world, are tasked with collecting half of the blood units the ASBP requires annually, Meko said he’s simply doing his duty as a Soldier.
“We all need to think about the important part we play in the grand scheme of things,” he said. “We would want to have blood available for our families or ourselves if we needed it; that’s exactly how those people who are injured and fighting illness right now feel. We all have a part to play and I’d suggest that everyone consider stepping up to their role.”
Meko recalled his father needing blood during a 15-hour surgery to remove a brain tumor and said the surgery was successful thanks, in part, to blood donors.
For Meko, donating blood is important on three levels – personally, as a commander and as a medical officer.
“Personally, I donate because I know how important it is to have an adequate blood supply available for when people need it,” he said. “I’m glad it was there for my father. I’m just trying to do for others what they did for my dad and what I’d want them to do for me.”
From the commander’s perspective, Meko said he feels it’s important to lead by example.
“I can’t encourage those in my command to donate and help others if I don’t do it myself,” he said. “Our profession requires us to go into harm’s way when the nation calls. When that happens, it’s inevitable that some will get injured and need blood. That blood only comes from people who volunteer to give it. That’s why we need to demonstrate service before self and donate regularly.”
And as a medical officer, Meko said he’s witnessed, firsthand, the need for blood during deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The bottom line is success at home means success abroad.
“When a Soldier comes in who has been critically wounded or injured, they can go through a lot of blood very quickly,” Meko said. “You never know when or how often that’s going to happen. So the more robust blood supply we can collect here means more of our deployed brothers and sisters will come home.”
The ASBP is the official blood collection agency for the Department of Defense. Donated blood helps service members who are injured or become ill in Afghanistan and other Overseas Contingency Areas. Approximately 25 percent of all service members admitted to medical facilities in those areas requires a blood transfusion, according to Marty Ricker, ASBP donor recruitment director.
Blood donated to the ASBP also helps service members and their families who are treated in military healthcare facilities across the DOD. According to Ricker, the Military Healthcare System requires 400 units of blood each day. All of that must come from volunteer donors.
The Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center is one of seven Army donor centers that support 100 percent of the U.S. Central Command's blood requirements. It is also one of 10 Army donor centers tasked with producing 50 percent of the ASBP overall blood collections each year.
For more information about the Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center or to set up an appointment to donate, call 573-596-5385 or e-mail
About the Armed Services Blood Program
Since 1962, the Armed Services Blood Program has served as the sole provider of blood for the United States military. As a tri-service organization, the ASBP collects, processes, stores and distributes blood and blood products to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and their families worldwide. As one of four national blood collection organizations trusted to ensure the nation has a safe, potent blood supply, the ASBP works closely with our civilian counterparts by sharing donors on military installations where there are no military blood collection centers and by sharing blood products in times of need to maximize availability of this national treasure. To find out more about the ASBP or to schedule an appointment to donate, please visit
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