For the past two years, Sgt. Franklin Smart has visited the Robertson Blood Center every two weeks to donate platelets.
The drive across post during his lunch break from his job on West Fort Hood as an unmanned aerial system operator with Echo Company, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, is easy compared to the 10-mile bike ride he’d make in high school to donate blood.
Smart said he saw a blood drive one day, and has been donating either whole blood or platelets ever since.
“Everybody should do it,” he said. “The military is always on short supply of everything.”
The sergeant was one of many donors to visit the center Jan. 22 for an open house as part of Blood Donor Recognition Month.
Col. Patricia Darnauer, commander of Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, said it’s rewarding to thank folks like Smart who donate their time and blood on a regular basis.
“However, I’d be happy to thank somebody who’s here for the first time to donate and look forward to starting a tradition with them,” she said. “We want (donors) to feel a personal connection to what donation is and what it means to others.”
January is typically a slow month for all blood centers, both military and civilian, and the open house was also a way to attract new people, said Lt. Col. Jose F. Quesada, director of the blood center.
“We want them to come have a great experience here so they can be donors for life,” he said.
Quesada said they would love to see between 150 and 200 donors a week to help provide life-saving resources to soldiers in Afghanistan, as well as to patients at Darnall, San Antonio Army Medical Center and the hospital at Fort Bliss. Right now, he said they are averaging between 400 and 500 a month.
“In our environment, there’s always a need for blood,” Quesada said. “The need is great to make sure we are meeting the contingency requirements, plus our hospitals have a need.”
When available, the Fort Hood center also shares with Veterans Affairs medical centers.
Most blood is donated through unit blood drives. The soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division contributed the most with more than 1,470 pints of blood.
“During Donor Recognition Month, we are so happy to have the opportunity to say thank you, especially to our regular donors and those units that come back repeatedly,” said 1st Lt. Sarah Matthews, deputy director of the center. “Their blood is going to very good use.”