Yokosuka sailors roll up their sleeves for blood donations
Stars and Stripes June 19, 2003
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Give until it hurts … or until you get a cup of punch and some free Girl Scout cookies.
Those were the treats awaiting the dozens of Yokosuka personnel who lined up to give blood Tuesday as the region’s only military blood bank made its annual swing through Kanto Plain bases.
For the third time in as many years, teams from the Armed Services Blood Bank Center, based in Camp Lester, Okinawa, set up in Yokosuka’s Fleet Gym on Tuesday and Yokota’s West Chapel on Wednesday.
Many of the donors were first-timers.
“I have the world’s smallest veins,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Viertel, as a technician searched for a place in the crook of his forearm to draw blood.
“It’s a little bit scary, but I’ve always wanted to donate blood. I’ve just always been on a ship, so I never had any time to do it,” said Viertel, assigned to Yokosuka’s Port Ops.
Officials from the blood bank hoped to get up to 75 donors at each of this week’s stops. As the only blood products provider from the Western Pacific to the Indian Ocean, the teams periodically travel away from Okinawa to get new donors.
“There’s so many bases on Oki that we can do a drive three or four times a week,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Bonnie Hargrave, one of the center’s technicians.
“We usually hit Misawa sometime in the winter and Yokosuka and Yokota in the summer. This year we’re also trying to get to Guam, so we’ll see.”
Each potential donor went through a series of screenings to ensure he or she was eligible to give blood. Donors filled out questionnaires, had their blood pressure and temperature checked, and a small sample of blood tested to ensure the bloodstream had proper iron levels.
The biggest disqualifiers of potential donors are provisions against having lived in certain areas during certain years, Hargrave said.
“Being military, especially overseas, a lot of people have been to the malarial zones or other places that might disqualify them,” she said. “But that’s why we do the screenings, so that we don’t disqualify anyone that is eligible.”