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Saving Lives: U.S. Naval Academy Hosts Successful ASBP Blood Drive

Image of Saving Lives: U.S. Naval Academy Hosts Successful ASBP Blood Drive. Midshipmen made up most of the donors at the U.S. Naval Academy blood drive, but academy staff and others also donated. During the two-day event, hundreds of generous donors volunteered to give blood.

“Duty. Honor. Commitment. Donate Blood. Save Lives.” This phrase was the theme of the Armed Services Blood Program two-day blood drive at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, on April 19 and 20. While the academy hosts frequent blood drives, one of this scale was new. The ASBP hopes to make it a semi-annual event.

The ASBP is the official blood program of the U.S. military, tasked with a mission to provide quality blood products to military health care operations worldwide. The program relies on donations from individual volunteer donors to ensure there is always a steady supply of blood available for those in need. Two ASBP centers teamed up to help run the recent event: Armed Services Blood Bank Center – National Capital Region in Bethesda, Maryland, and Fort Bragg Blood Donor Center in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

U.S. Navy Midshipman Ella Vath, the lead blood drive coordinator, was enthused about the high turnout.

“I am happy with how the event is turning out … I've seen a lot of my company mates out here donating, and that just feels really good,” Vath said.  

Dahlgren Hall proved itself as a great host building for the blood drive. Natural light poured into the spacious hall, with state flags above the second-floor balcony punctuating the scene. A steady stream of midshipmen could be seen making their way into the drive and out of the building throughout the entirety of the two-day event, along with U.S. Naval Academy staff and others; hundreds of generous donors volunteered to give blood.

U.S. Army Maj. William Ceballos, chief of the Fort Bragg Blood Donor Center, was thankful for the help they received. "The blood drive was a huge success because of the support we received from the commander and the Naval Academy’s administration. Without their support, we could not have accomplished what we did."

Leadership came to show its support. U.S. Naval Academy Deputy Commandant of Midshipmen, U.S. Navy Capt. David Forman, visited and chatted and joked a bit with both midshipmen and ASBP staff. He said he was pleased by the incredible turnout from the USNA community.

U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Hebert, director of the Navy Blood Program, also attended. “What makes this drive different is the fact that we’ve teamed up with one of our Army donor centers to do a joint blood drive,” Hebert said. He added: “We do large-scale blood drives at West Point, and those are also joint events, where the Army, Air Force, and Navy come together to collect a very large amount of blood. The Air Force Academy has also joined in and started hosting large-scale blood drives. It was time to pull the Navy into the mix and make sure that all our large military institution communities and academies are doing their part to donate blood.”

Hebert explained why it was so important to get U.S. Navy future leaders and community involved in a greater way.

“The only blood you have is the blood that's already on the shelf right now ... and it's a product that expires and must be replenished,” he said. “The need for blood is constant, and you never know when you are going to need it. Ultimately, this is blood for them. The blood we collect goes to their brothers and sisters in arms, and those who have retired from service. It’s a short time sitting in that chair donating blood, but that can be a lifetime to somebody.”

Speaking to why a midshipman would donate, Vath said “I think one of the biggest things is that we all came here for a certain reason … [and that’s] being a part of something bigger than yourself. It’s kind of like a microcosm of the Navy and Marine Corps as a whole … If you want to be part of something greater than yourself, this is a great opportunity to do so even if you’re still training.”

Hebert talked about the uniqueness of the ASBP as a true tri-service team. “We all work together for a common cause, and that’s to make sure we have blood when and where we need it. I know the Armed Services Blood Program saves lives. And I know from working in hospitals that the blood on the shelf saves patients’ lives. It's as simple as that.”

Overall, the success of the event lays a strong foundation for future large-scale blood drives at the United States Naval Academy. Through duty, honor, and commitment, the participants of this blood drive have truly saved lives.

Armed Services Blood Program

Since 1962, the Armed Services Blood Program is the official blood program of the United States military. Our mission is to provide quality blood products and support to military health care operations worldwide; from the battlefield to the local hospital, whenever and wherever needed. The ASBP collects, processes, stores, transports, and distributes blood products to service members, their families, retirees and veterans in peace and war. In an ASBP Enterprise view – Military Health Affairs, Defense Health Agency, Service Blood Programs and Combatant Commands – we operate under common goals, metrics, procedures, and work together to shape the future.

The ASBP is one of four organizations tasked with providing a safe blood supply to the nation. Our program also works closely with our civilian counterparts in times of need to maximize the availability of this national treasure.

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

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