Story and photo by Carl Norman
Special to GUIDON
The Fort Leonard Wood community saved more lives in 2020 than in recent history and did so while lounging comfortably and watching a movie at the Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center.
Some 6,900 volunteers rolled up their sleeves and donated life-saving blood to the Armed Services Blood Program.
Since one unit can be divided into plasma and red blood cells, these donations translate into 13,800 life-saving blood products made available to ill and injured people throughout the Department of Defense. To put this into perspective, the collected blood could make a product available to every Soldier in two average-size Army brigades or every man, woman and child in the Waynesville-St. Robert area.
Additionally, the government saved nearly $2.1 million by not having to purchase this blood from commercial agencies.
“We can’t say thank you enough to those who donated with us in 2020,” said Maj. John Spring, Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center director. “Your compassion is saving lives around the world.”
The military healthcare system requires 400 units of blood every day to meet operational requirements, according to Marty Ricker, ASBP donor recruiter director.
“We can only collect those from volunteer donors,” he said. “Thank you for helping us help others.”
According to BDC staff, the lion’s share of donations here in 2020 came from trainees. However, nearly 500 permanent-party service members and civilians also donated.
Everyone is a true hero, Spring said.
“Seeing young men and women donate to a cause that’s bigger than themselves shows me our military is in good hands,” he said. “Without them, we couldn’t accomplish our mission and people would suffer as a result.”
In all, more than 60 on-post organizations donated blood at the Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center last year. To salute those who went above and beyond, the staff offered its final list of the Top 10 donating units for 2020.
No. 1: The Marine Corps Detachment donated 565 units in 25 drives. The detachment trains Marines in engineer, military police and motor transportation specialties and boasts the largest Marine Corps unit not located on a Marine Corps installation.
No. 2: General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital staff donated 245 units in five drives.
No. 3: Company A, 35th Engineer Battalion, donated 234 units in six drives.
No. 4: Company A, 554th Engineer Battalion, donated 216 units in 10 drives.
No. 5: Company C, 35th Engineer Battalion, donated 213 units in 5 drives.
No. 6: A tie between the 5th Engineer Battalion and Company B, 554th Engineer Battalion, Engineer Basic Officer Leadership Course. Each donated 211 units in four and six drives, respectively.
No. 7: The Maneuver Support Center of Excellence staff donated 196 units in seven drives.
No. 8: Company B, 58th Transportation Battalion, donated 191 units in 11 drives.
No. 9: The Fitness Training Unit donated 171 units in five drives.
No. 10: Company C, 58th Transportation Battalion, donated 169 units in 11 drives.
“Donating blood is something most people don’t think about until illness or injury strikes,” Spring said. “We’re asking everyone to think about the people who are already there and need blood to recover. Donating is a simple act that doesn’t take much time but can have life-changing results. We thank everyone who donated in 2020 and look forward to another record-setting year in 2021.”
For more information about the Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center, or to schedule an appointment to donate, call 573-596-5385 or email [email protected]
(Editor’s note: Norman is the Armed Services Blood Program donation recruiter at Fort Leonard Wood.)