NORFOLK, (NNS) -- Service members in Afghanistan and Iraq are always in need of support, supplies and services. Thanks to the Sailors of USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), service members can rest assured they will have a sufficient amount of blood for medical support.
Truman's Sailors hosted a blood drive Oct. 21, in support of The Armed Services Blood Program (ASBP), a program established to support the medical needs of American military personnel abroad.
Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SW) Robert Dobbs of Truman's health services department, organized the event and said it was a very important cause. He said the mission of the ASBP is to provide quality blood and blood products to service members and their families worldwide.
"What most people may not know is that the military has its own blood bank program completely separate from any civilian organization," Dobbs said. "When you give to those organizations, your blood could go anywhere, but when you give to the Armed Services Blood Program, you know your donation is used for military members and their families."
Dobbs said the ASBP provides quality blood products for service members and their families in both peace and war. The blood Sailors donate can be used in several different ways, depending on the situation.
"From one unit of blood, we can get a couple of different products. For example, we can separate the whole blood from the plasma and have two separate units for transfusion."
Dobbs believes it is imperative for people to donate to this cause. According to the ASBP Web site, 40 or more units of blood could be required for a single trauma victim.
"When we give blood, that donation will be used to save lives. It's a great way to help out. It only takes a little time out of your day, and you usually get juice and cookies afterward, so it's a win-win situation for everybody," Dobbs said.
"Right now, a lot of blood is needed to support the ongoing war effort, so any blood that is given has a real good chance of saving the life of one of our own, maybe even someone you know."
Many first-time donors, especially younger Sailors, may not realize they could be the difference in a life or death situation. Dobbs encourages all Sailors to participate, saying it is a worthy cause.
"I've been in Navy medicine for over fourteen years now, and I've seen first hand the difference a unit of blood can make," Dobbs said. "I've seen lives saved because of someone's donation. I've also seen lives lost because we didn't have enough blood to give them.
"You may not think that one small unit of blood can make that much difference, but believe me, it can and often does."
Aviation Electronics Technician Airman Scott Rudacille agrees. Rudacille, a first-time donor, encourages all other Sailors to donate blood whenever they can.
"Someone who is deployed could really use the help," Rudacille said. "You can never have too much blood."
He said someone always benefits from blood drives and if Sailors are apprehensive about donating, they should try to put themselves in the shoes of someone in need.
"I volunteered because I figured this would be a good way to help someone," Rudacille said. "It's easy and a great way to help out a shipmate."
Dobbs believes giving blood could help save the lives of service members and their families. He also said there are alternate sites for Sailors to give year-round.
"Yes, it does hurt a little at first, but it's a very small price to pay to save the life of someone's parent or even a child," Dobbs said. "I give blood as often as possible. If for some reason you can't give during the blood drive, you can always go to the lab at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth and schedule a time to give. Their donation center is almost always open and ready to go."
For more news from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.