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JBLM hosts vital blood drive during COVID-19

Soldier giving blood Navy Hospitalman Edward Yellend cares for Army Spc Courtland Daughtry as he donates blood during a recent blood drive at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. (Photo by Victor Shermer, Armed Services Blood Program.)

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During the first four months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington remained operational with essential workers. To keep all personnel on JBLM safe, most training and events were put on hold, including blood drives. In July, however, the Armed Services Blood Bank Center – Pacific Northwest was given authorization to start conducting blood drives again. To maintain social distancing requirements, all blood drives are by appointment only, and restrictions are placed on how many donors and staff can be in the area.

Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Corps, stepped up to host a blood drive to do their part during COVID-19. Army Sgt. Maj. Osvaldo Martinez, the battalion command sergeant major, mentioned the idea of hosting a blood drive to Army Capt. Stephanie Larson, the battalion surgeon. Larson organized the a three-day blood drive at the commands medical section; She and her medics went door-to-door throughout their headquarters building to find potential donors.

“It really didn’t take much convincing, as there was enthusiasm and willing participants in pretty much every section we showed up in,” she stated. “We also had a concurrent SRP [Soldier Readiness Program] during the blood drive, so we encouraged people to come donate after they had completed the SRP. Because of the great response we got, we are considering doing a blood drive on a quarterly basis. It was really good for morale, I think.”

One of the many donors, Army Spec. Zachary Priddy, said he was donating because “it feels essential to donate if you’re a medical person.” Priddy is an Army medic assigned to the battalion medical section. With only 16 months of service, JBLM is Spec. Priddy’s first assignment – and his first time donating blood. Priddy added, “You volunteer to serve, so take the extra step to volunteer to donate blood when you have an opportunity.”

Army Spec. Courtland Daughtry, an Air Battle Defense manager, has donated blood in the past, but this was his first time donating with the ASBP. Daughtry felt the urge to donate when he heard about the blood drive. Although he was unaware of ASBP’s mission, he was educated during his donation. Daughtry also encouraged others to donate, “Take the opportunity to donate when a blood drive is available.”

The battalion did their part during COVID-19 to ensure the enduring and mission critical need for blood is available for those deployed supporting contingency operations and our military treatment facilities here at home, added Larson.

To find out more about the ASBP or to schedule an appointment to donate, please visit the ASBP website. To interact directly with ASBP staff members, see more photos, or get the latest news, follow @militaryblood on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube, and @usmilitaryblood on Instagram.

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