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Armed Services Blood Program Names 2023 ASBP Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

Image of The Armed Services Blood Program is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2023 ASBP’s Lifetime Achievement Award: retired U.S. Army Col. Richard Gonzales. He has supported the military blood banking community for over 30 years, and throughout his career, Gonzales has consistently ensured ASBP mission success and more. (Photo: Swati Agane). The Armed Services Blood Program is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2023 ASBP’s Lifetime Achievement Award: retired U.S. Army Col. Richard Gonzales. He has supported the military blood banking community for over 30 years, and throughout his career, Gonzales has consistently ensured ASBP mission success and more. (Photo: Swati Agane)

The Armed Services Blood Program is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2023 ASBP’s Lifetime Achievement Award: retired U.S. Army Col. Richard “Rich” Gonzales. He has supported the military blood banking community across varying roles, always making an impact wherever he served. Gonzales retired in 2015 with 30 years of service in the U.S. Army.

In a statement congratulating Gonzales on his achievement, U.S. Navy Captain Leslie Riggs, division chief of ASBP, shared that “when he was an active duty service member, Gonzales was an integral part of the Armed Services Blood Program, and that did not change after his retirement. Ever a leader in the blood banking industry, today, Gonzales continues to provide solutions to some of the most difficult issues facing our military blood community.”

Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Gonzales earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio in 1985, and dual Master of Science degrees in Biology and immunohematology from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, in 1993. At St. Mary’s University, he was commissioned as a distinguished military graduate into the Army Medical Service Corps from the university’s ROTC program.

At his first assignment in Fort Carson, Colorado, Gonzales earned the coveted Expert Field Medical Badge, awarded to less than 10% of all medical personnel. His accomplishments there led to him being selected to attend the Clinical Laboratory Officer’s Course, where he had his initial introduction to military blood banking. In 1989, Gonzales was assigned as a laboratory manager at Reynolds Army Community Hospital in Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Gonzales deployed with the 47th Field Hospital as a laboratory officer during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He was awarded the bronze star for his forward thinking and actions in developing laboratory capabilities throughout the 3rd Army Medical Command.

In 1999, he returned to the blood banking community when he was assigned chief of blood services at Eisenhower Army Medical Center and the Southeast region. Here, he developed a plan for regional blood collections to maximize collection of military trainees within the southeastern U.S. Under his leadership, the Kendrick Memorial Blood center dramatically increased blood collections from 200 units/month to over 2,000 units/month. This directly impacted the mission accomplishment of providing blood to deployed forces at the onset of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi War.

In 2002, soon after being assigned to WRAMC, Gonzales deployed as the U.S. Central Command Joint Blood Program Officer (Forward) and ensured all coalition forces were provided with needed blood support anywhere and anytime needed. —and this partnership continues to this day.

“Gonzales has comprehensive knowledge of blood product collection, distribution, and transfusion. He has an unparalleled understanding of blood system development. His knowledge and experience are encyclopedic and irreplaceable,” shared USAISR Director of Research U.S. Army Col. Dr. Andrew Cap.

Previous 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient retired U.S. Army Col. Glen Michael Fitzpatrick, who holds a doctorate, explained that "Gonzales is the consummate military blood banker. I believe he has green blood flowing through his veins. He has been a force of change and improvement throughout his military and civilian career.”

Gonzales explained that one of his most rewarding experiences was developing future leaders. During his assignment as professor of military science, he nurtured and trained future U.S. Army officers and ensured the career development of blood bank officers included tactical and acquisitions training; and as blood bank consultant, he mentored junior officers on their career assignments while balancing their individual needs against the needs of the U.S. Army. He retired from military service in 2015 as the director of the Army Blood Program.

Army Blood Program Director U.S. Army Col. Christopher Evans thanked Gonzales for everything he has done, saying “Gonzales is a dedicated and innovative leader in the blood community who has impacted the Armed Services Blood Program. It's been a pleasure to witness his lifelong contributions, and I am grateful for his tireless commitment to advancing blood safety and mentoring professionals.”

Gonzales and his wife of over 38 years, former U.S. Army Major, Dr. Monica Gonzales, are proud parents of Dr. Bianca Cerqueira, who has a doctorate as a biomedical engineer.

“Gonzales is very much deserving of the Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Medical Capability Development Integration Directorate Laboratory Capability Manager U.S. Army Col. Jason Corley. “He worked throughout his military career to provide blood to our warfighters and health care beneficiaries.”

About the 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 www.militaryblood.dod.mil. To 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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