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NEWS | April 25, 2022

Chicago area Army Reserve Soldiers donate blood to combat supply shortage

By Capt. Michael Ariola 85th Support Command

“Our MRAPs (mine resistant ambush protected vehicles) were hit with an IED (improvised explosive device),” said Sgt.1st Class Lonnie Cavitt, G3 Operations Sergeant, 85th Support Command. “We had a Soldier that got injured really bad.”

“Some of our Soldiers gave him blood while I called in the MEDEVAC (medical evacuation). The Soldier survived because of the blood he was given,” said Cavitt, while recalling an incident in Kapisa Province Afghanistan during his 2009 deployment, when asked why he chose to donate blood.

Last month the 85th U.S. Army Reserve Support Command hosted an Armed Services Blood Program (ASBP) blood drive at the COL Paul G. Schulstad United States Army Reserve Center in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

U.S. Army Reserve Maj. Jodi Wernikoff, who serves as the company commander for the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 85th USARSC organized the blood drive.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity for people to get out and support another government agency in the Chicago area that helps our service members in CONUS (Continental United States) locations as well as overseas,” said Wernikoff. “So I reached out to the Armed Service Blood Program, Great Lakes and invited them to come here.”

The ASBP, a division of the Defense Health Agency’s Combat Support Directorate, is the official military provider of blood products to U.S. armed forces. It is tasked with the collection, processing, storage and transportation of blood and blood products to ill or injured service members, their families, retirees and veterans worldwide.

“Due to our FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration) guidelines being stricter than the civilian sector, our products are actually the only ones able to be sent overseas to our troops,” said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Anthony Ramirez, Blood Donor Recruiter, Blood Donor Processing Division, Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center.

There are 20 ASBP blood donor centers in the U.S. and around the globe. Each Service operates multiple blood donor centers, and many conduct mobile drives in their surrounding areas.

Last month’s ASBP blood drive, hosted by the 85th USARSC, was held partially in response to a national blood shortage.

“Nationwide shortages are due to COVID. Blood donor centers, not just our programs, but civilian programs as well are experiencing blood shortages because donors are becoming very wary about wanting to go out into the public because they’re afraid they will catch COVID while donating,” said Ramirez.

“The main reason I feel everyone is here donating is that we all knew there was a blood shortage, and if there's a way we can help then we should,” said Spc. Diane Sock, paralegal specialist, 85th USARSC.

For more information on the Armed Services Blood Program or to find a blood drive near you visit: www.militarydonor.com