ASBP: Robertson Blood Center Celebrates Blood Collectors Week
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Robertson Blood Center Celebrates Blood Collectors Week

By Dave Conrad, Robertson Blood Center
Staff at Robertson Blood Center (RBC) were recognized for their service during a ceremony celebrating the 13th annual Blood Collectors Week, hosted at the facility in Fort Hood, Texas on Sept. 7.

Started jointly by the AABB, a not-for-profit association, and Fresenius Kabi, a global healthcare company, blood centers throughout the United States celebrate Blood Collectors Week during the first week of September in order to recognize the contributions, professionalism and dedication of their phlebotomists and technicians.

“The mission is literally vital,” Army Maj. Elaine Morrison, the center’s director, said. “Our mission is unique from other laboratory scientists: we take a product from a unique individual, we collect it, we manufacture it, we distribute it to our blood banks- where they issue it to patients waiting to receive the lifesaving products. But as blood collectors, we manage our donors to ensure they understand their importance so that we may continue to collect blood in support of this critical mission.”

RBC has served the Fort Hood community, and the Armed Services Blood Program (ASBP), for more than 40 years, beginning as the Fort Hood Community Blood Bank in 1979. The collections staff is a combination of Soldiers, civilians and volunteers with almost a century of combined experience caring for blood donors.

Charles Dietzen, an apheresis technician at the center, retired as a first sergeant from the Army after a twenty-six-year career as a lab tech involved with the blood program.

“Being a retired Army lab tech and having seen the importance of the Army blood mission, both in garrison and deployed, I have a special understanding of this lifesaving mission,” he said. “The most difficult part of the job is garnering new and repeat donors to fulfill mission requirements.”

Karen Vettese is a volunteer with RBC who donates her time to help Soldiers donate blood. “I like to get out and meet different Soldiers of all ranks, from the privates all the way through the generals,” she said. “I enjoy hearing their stories.”

Army Sgt. Matthew Daniels has 15 years of experience as a medical laboratory technician. He also enjoys the social aspect of working with donors.

“I learn something new every time I talk with a donor,” he said. “It’s never mundane or repetitive.”

Merledic Casado is a phlebotomist, and September marks her ninth anniversary with RBC. Before becoming a phlebotomist, she worked as a certified nurse assistant with Carl R. Darnall Medical Center, transferring to the blood center in 2009.

“I realized that everything that I do, I love, because I know that this blood is going to save lives,” Casado said. “My goal is to provide the best treatment for our donors, because we depend on them.”

Debra BenAvram, CEO of AABB, encapsulated the importance of blood collectors- such as those at RBC. In an AABB press release, she said, “Blood collection professionals’ daily work is critical to the lives of millions of Americans impacted by crises and medical events who depend on safe, ready access to blood.”

The Robertson Blood Center is open Monday – Friday, 7:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Donors can schedule appointments or walk in. Organizations can schedule blood drives at the center or request a mobile blood drive by calling 254-285-5808 or emailing the donor recruiter at

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 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.