NASHVILLE, Tenn. –
The 372nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment in Nashville, Tennessee, is one of several U.S. Army Reserve units positioned throughout the Southeast to support the Hurricane Florence relief effort. Not every unit will be called to a mission, and so in the interim, the unit commander, Maj. Olha Vandergriff, decided to seize a vital opportunity to support the recovery effort from the MPAD's home station.
On Thursday, Sept. 18, Soldiers of the 372nd MPAD, who go by the moniker 'Ghostwriters', visited their local American Red Cross to donate blood. The Red Cross is always in need of donations year-round, but that need increases significantly during natural disasters. Power outages, stifled transportation and the influx of patients afflicted by the hurricane create austere working conditions for hospitals in the impacted areas, making the need for life-saving blood supplies even more crucial.
The military community extends across the country and beyond, and many Soldiers have relationships with people in Florence's path. “We're part of this community. These are our friends and neighbors, and we wanted to help people that are being affected by the hurricane,” Vandergriff explained.
Sgts. 1st Class Donna Davis and Daniel Sullivan, 1st Sgt. Ryan Matson and Maj. Vandergriff each donated blood. She recommends that Soldiers across the country donate as well: “If you have the ability to donate blood, you should absolutely do it.” Matson added, “You may be in a uniform your whole career and never be in the position to save a life, but if you're a blood donor, you're guaranteed to.”
Sgt. Anshu Pandeya is a regular blood donor, who has been giving for more than a decade. He had donated the previous month, which made him ineligible to donate whole blood. Instead, he made his contribution in the form of platelets.
“The platelets from your blood can be used to help burn victims and people with cancer. You can also donate (platelets) every seven days, versus doing a blood donation every eight weeks,” he explained. Beyond the satisfaction of saving lives, donating regularly also comes with some tangible benefits.
“(The Red Cross) sent me an email asking me to donate platelets (because) they needed some. And they gave me a Starbucks gift card, so that means I have to buy the commander coffee later,” he said with a laugh.
All blood donation centers also have snacks and beverages, light reading material and more to make your donation experience as comfortable as possible. Pandeya encourages anyone who may have reservations about giving blood or platelets to place their confidence in the professionals:
“There is a wonderful staff there who will tend to your needs. ... They're there to make you feel good so you're not scared when you get the needle stick, and it's only a pinch. And it's a pinch for somebody who's really going to need that blood somewhere.”
There's never a bad time to donate blood, but with the onset of hurricane season, now is a particularly important time to give. Visit the Red Cross's website to learn more about the disaster relief effort.