ASBP: Former Commander Leaves Lasting Impression on BAMC Blood Program
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Former Commander Leaves Lasting Impression on BAMC Blood Program

07/16/2018
By Mark Salcedo, ASBP blood donor recruiter, Fort Sam Houston, Texas
Mr. Al Bolds, apheresis technologist, Akeroyd Blood Donor Center, reviews Army Lt. Col. Lee Freeman’s donor record. This is Freeman’s 12th plasma donation before his move to Joint Base Lewis – McChord, Washington.
Mr. Al Bolds, apheresis technologist, Akeroyd Blood Donor Center, reviews Army Lt. Col. Lee Freeman’s donor record. This is Freeman’s 12th plasma donation before his move to Joint Base Lewis – McChord, Washington.
Blood transfusions have become an indispensable piece of today’s military health care system and contribute to saving hundreds of lives each year. Yet, because of their limited shelf-life, blood supplies need to be constantly replenished.

Having support at the highest levels of military leadership is critical for building a successful command blood program. Army Lt. Col. Lee Freeman is a strong example of such leadership and support. Working together with the Akeroyd Blood Donor Center leadership, he has built a blood donor incentive program in order to increase the availability of products to Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas.

Freeman, who witnessed the critical importance of a steady and ready blood supply on hand in order to save lives, used his experiences as the driving force in setting up a blood donation incentive program with BAMC. The new policy, which currently applies to BAMC Troop Command personnel only, encourages both military and DOD civilians to donate blood and rewarding their act of giving with a path to earn Certificates of Achievement, time off and Army Achievement Medals.

“Each donation does make an impact and our service members need to make it a priority. We are a military medical center and this simple act aids our mission and contributes to the care received here,” he said.

Freeman, former commander of BAMC Troop Command, has served in the Army for 21 years. He has a long history of deployments which include Camp Bedrock, Bosnia in 1998, four deployments to Iraq from 2003 to 2008 and another to Camp Dwyer, Afghanistan in 2011. As the Chief of the Joint Medical Operations Office in the CENTCOM Surgeon’s Office at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, he was responsible for synchronizing and executing health service support throughout the 20 countries in the US Central Command area of responsibility.

“I was responsible for overseeing intra- and inter-theater evacuation operations and planning the theater blood support operation executed out of Qatar,” said Freeman. “I travelled extensively to Qatar and worked with the theater blood officer and International Security Assistance Forces and US Forces – Afghanistan on supporting novel concepts such as adding whole blood products to rotary wing medical evacuation in Afghanistan in order to preserve or extend life until reaching a surgeon/damage control surgery.”

While deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 with the 115th Combat Support Hospital, Freeman experienced multiple mass casualty events. He remembers one mass casualty event that exhausted their hospital’s blood supply. In response, his unit activated their walking blood bank; calling prescreened service members to the hospital from all over the base to donate. The walking blood bank was successful and the CSH was resupplied the following day from the theater blood support detachment.

Since the implementation of the incentive program in February 2017, the Akeroyd BDC has collected over 200 blood and blood products from more than 40 Soldiers assigned to BAMC Troop Command.

Apart from helping design the policy, Freeman has backed the ASBP mission by donating on his personal time. Freeman signed up for the Akeroyd BDC’s freeze dried plasma program in Oct. 2016. Taking just 90 minutes out of his schedule every four to five weeks, he has been able to donate 12 times.

“At each donation, I most look forward to speaking with Mr. Al Bolds, apheresis technologist and Army veteran, about current events, our military experiences, the Spurs, and listening to him discuss his son’s progress in school and athletics – high school basketball,” Freeman said.

“I continue to donate to set an example for BAMC Troop Command- demonstrating the importance of the military’s blood program missions and that if I have time – my Soldiers also have time to provide this lifesaving supply back to our hospital and to our service members serving overseas in harm’s way.”

“Having our troop commander as a dedicated plasma donor and providing command support has been a privilege to our organization and to the military’s blood program,” said Army Staff Sgt. Amy Klug, noncommissioned officer in charge of the Akeroyd BDC. “Lt. Col. Freeman's donations have not only saved lives, they have instilled pride within our Soldiers at the donor center and have set an example for his troops that followed and rolled up their sleeves to donate.”

Freeman stresses the importance of consistent blood donation and how it can make a difference.

“To give of yourself in order to save a life. As simple as that! You will never know where your donation went – to BAMC’s emergency department and a civilian trauma or maybe Syria to support special operations forces. Either way, your donation demonstrates a willingness to contribute to a lifesaving deed and is a selfless act we all should strive to make a routine part of our lives.”

For more information or questions about how you can help, contact the ASBP blood donor recruiter for the Akeroyd Blood Donor Center directly at (210) 295-4655. The center is open from 7:30 to 11:00 a.m., Monday through Friday. It is located at B1240 Harney Road, behind Budge Dental Clinic on JBSA – Fort Sam Houston. Walk-in donors are always welcome, but appointments are highly encouraged.

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.