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When COVID-19 started affecting this area several weeks ago, the Armed Services Blood Program had several scheduled blood drives. One of those blood drives, sponsored by Belvoir’s Warrior Transition Battalion, was set for the USO Warrior & Family Center on Belvoir. Then, the USO had to close.

However, knowing of the urgent need for blood donors and blood drives, especially now, the USO decided to re-open, solely to support the Armed Services Blood Program, the Warrior Transition Battalion and military patients in the area and downrange.

“Heidi Miller, the USO Center coordinator, called us offering to open for the blood drive … and for anytime during the pandemic,” said Donna Onwona, from the ASBP.

“I am so happy we are able to do this, because it’s so important, especially now,” Miller said. “We are all so grateful for the healthcare workers out there.”

“Thanks to the USO, we now have a blood drive scheduled to help us get blood downrange and to military treatment facilities in the National Capital Region, including Fort Belvoir Community Hospital,” Onwona said.

Through word of mouth, the ASBP blood drive on April 2 is full with appointments. However, the USO agreed to open again for another blood drive, April 6, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

“The current coronavirus situation has already impacted our ability to get blood down range and to MTFs for patients. Unfortunately, we’re in an emergency situation with blood supplies and it will likely get worse,” Onwona said. “Any and all support for the Armed Services Blood Program is greatly appreciated. We had many drives get canceled, because of unexpected closures, social distancing and more regular donors teleworking.”

The greatest need is for blood types O and AB and appointments are strongly recommended due to social distancing requirements and not being able to set up as much equipment as usual.

Appointments for the April 6 blood drive are available at militarydonor.com, using the sponsor code USO. The blood drive is open to anyone eligible to donate blood. Those who aren’t eligible are asked to tell a friend to donate.

Info is available via e-mail to Donna Onwona at the Armed Services Blood Program, donna-lee.onwona.civ@mail.mil.