Saving Lives, One Drop at A Time: JBER's Blood Drive

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Moises Vasquez
  • 673d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The Armed Services Blood Program hosted a blood drive, at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Aug. 15 through 18.

The blood drive, named Arctic Thunder, aims to give the JBER community the opportunity to contribute to an ongoing mission that extends beyond Alaska.

Victor Shermer, donor recruiter and public affairs specialist for the Armed Services Blood Bank Center-Pacific Northwest, based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, said the ASBP may only conduct blood drives on military installations or at university Reserve Officer Training Corps programs and federal agencies, making the donor pool much smaller. 

Though donating is strictly voluntary, all donor centers are required to have a weekly donor quota to support deployed service members worldwide – the primary mission – and then to support military medical treatment and Veterans Affairs hospitals. 

Donations are down across the United States; of the many eligible to donate, only five percent contribute to the cause.
“Last year we conducted a blood drive at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, and it was successful – collecting over 700 units of blood over three days,” said Shermer. “This was our first time conducting blood drives in Alaska. It came about when U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Brian Eifler, 11th Airborne Division commander, asked us to come up and do both JBER and Fort Wainwright. We were scheduled to conduct a blood drive at Eielson Air Force Base last year, but our equipment did not arrive in time. This year, we have [Eielson] scheduled again and will conduct a blood drive on Aug. 21, before we host at Fort Wainwright for three days. All personnel at JBER are invited to come and donate, military and civilian alike.”

U.S Army Maj. Joshua Martinez, chief of the ASBBC-PNW, said community involvement in blood drives is paramount for the organization. Donations are lower than normal because permanent change of stations for military personnel are typical during the summer months.

“We can't do it without the support of our military personnel, beneficiaries and even retirees,” Martinez said. “Every time that you see that red, white and blue blood drop, that's our signature ASBP logo. I hope anybody who sees those signs posted and is able to donate, does so.”

Shermer said the ASBP looks forward to having the support of all eligible donors at JBER to make this blood drive event successful and support the rest of the military community.

“The blood we collect is from the military, for the military. It only goes to our civilian counterparts in times of need, such as in natural disasters or other catastrophes, and that is a decision made at the highest levels,” Shermer said. “We are looking forward to the support of all eligible donors at JBER to make this three-day blood drive event successful to support the military community.”