COLUMBIA — Columbians who want to do something for American soldiers now have the chance. The Armed Services Blood Program is requesting blood donations for soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The blood drive will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 6 at the U.S. Army Reserve Center, 1306 Business Loop 70 W.
The Blood Program is a joint operation of the Army, Navy and Air Force. It is chartered by the U.S. Department of Defense to coordinate the provision of blood products throughout the armed forces.
The program, which got its start during World War II, was formally established in 1952 and has provided support for soldiers in the Korean and Vietnam wars, for those who responded to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and for other national emergencies and overseas military operations.
“Qualified blood will benefit the U.S. soldiers and their families nationwide,” said Sgt. 1st Class Neal Overstreet, Columbia coordinator of the program. “About 90 percent will serve the soldier in particular.”
The need is great. According to the program’s Web site, a single injured soldier could need more than 40 units of blood.
“We are urging all eligible donors to donate blood,” Cmdr. Michael Libby, director of the Armed Services Blood Program, said in a news release. “Many of our regular donors travel during the holidays to spend time with their loved ones and are unable to come into one of our blood donor centers. This can cause the military blood supply to run low.”
The program has strict blood-screening requirements. People who have had tattoos or piercings within the past year cannot donate, nor can those who have colds, are taking antibiotics or have donated blood within the past eight weeks. Those with significant health problems are also ineligible, as are those who weigh less than 110 pounds. For a full list of screening criteria, go to www.militaryblood.dod.mil/interim.cfm.