ASBP: ASBP Kicks off National Blood Donor Month with West Point Blood Drive
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ASBP Kicks off National Blood Donor Month with West Point Blood Drive

01/29/2018
By Dave Conrad, ASBP blood donor recruiter, Fort Hood, Texas
The Armed Services Blood Program kicked off 2018 and National Blood Donor Month with their largest annual blood drive Jan. 8-11 at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York. The drive collected more than 1700 units of whole blood from the cadets, faculty and West Point community.

The blood drive is held each year during the winter months, when blood supplies are low. With severe weather, holiday travel and other hindrances- including flu-related challenges- to donation, the ASBP and civilian blood banks across the country face shortages of donors and therefore donations of whole blood, platelets and plasma.

Since 1962, the ASBP has served as the sole provider of blood for the United States military. All blood donated by the ASBP directly supports service members, veterans and military families at treatment facilities around the world.

During the drive, a veteran -whose life was saved by blood donated through the program- delivered a speech to the staff, donors and cadets highlighting the importance of blood donation.

Retired Army Staff Sgt. Earl Granville shared his experiences as a wounded warrior, veteran and adaptive athlete. Many will recognize Granville from the viral footage and pictures of him carrying his guide across the finish line during the Boston Marathon in 2017.

Granville was on patrol in Zormat, Afghanistan, in the summer of 2008 when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb, resulting in the amputation of his left leg through the knee.

“One of the things that brought me here today is that I lost a lot of blood when I lost my leg,” Granville said. “I now have an artificial leg, and life is good, but when it comes to the ‘oil of your body’ – the blood itself – that’s not artificial. You have to get that from somewhere, and I think that’s the biggest importance of donating your time and part of yourself, to keep these warriors alive.”

Granville’s message was not lost on those in attendance. Cadet Cheyenne Quilter, Class of '21, said, "Originally, I wasn't going to give blood, but when he talked about how much the blood actually, directly impacts people, I thought it was not only needed for the Corps to help with but is meaningful."

Granville recognized the sacrifices and the service of the ASBP staff as well. "I have a lot of friends, wounded veterans, whose lives you've all saved. You might not see it, but trust me- I'm here because of guys like you."

The ASBP staff were inspired by Granville's testimony. "It's nice to see the fruits of our labor," Army Spec. Kristie DeJesus, a lab technician with the ASBP at Fort Bragg, said. "In one way or another, we saved someone's life with almost every donation, or unit we collect."

Granville is now an adaptive athlete who has competed in physically challenging events and he is also spokesperson for Operation Enduring Warrior. Thanks to the lifesaving contribution of blood donation, Granville not only survived, but he is thriving and inspiring others.

“Without them [donors], the ASBP wouldn’t be able to provide lifesaving blood, without interruption, to patients in need,” Navy Capt. Roland Fahie said in reference to blood donors. “Whether that blood recipient is a service member wounded on the battlefield, a child with leukemia being treated at a military hospital, or supporting natural disasters worldwide, the blood we provide saves lives.”

The ASBP is grateful for the leadership and community support at West Point for this blood drive. With a strong start to the New Year, the ASBP recognizes that military lives are only saved because of its donors and supporters who are truly the heart of the program.

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 www.militaryblood.dod.mil. To interact directly with ASBP staff members, see more photos or get the latest news, follow @militaryblood on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and Pinterest. Find the drop. Donate.

The Armed Services Blood Program is a proud recipient of the Army Maj. Gen. Keith L. Ware Public Affairs award for journalism.