“I try to donate blood every four months,” Pvt. Travis Arnold, 1st Cavalry Regiment, said. “My father fought leukemia for a year and a half, and I saw how he went through platelets and blood transfusions. I think it’s important for everybody to do their part and donate blood, because a lot of people don’t see how affective it can be for somebody who desperately needs it.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Robertson Blood Center is currently experiencing a loss in blood donations from the Fort Hood community.

The Robertson Blood Center is part of the Armed Services Blood Program, which aids the Army, Navy and Air Force.

Walking to his company, Arnold saw a sign, which read “DONATE BLOOD TODAY!” and immediately took a left turn. Although, Arnold has only been stationed at Fort Hood for three weeks, he’s already saved a stranger’s life.

Donating blood at least three times a year is a personal endeavor for Arnold, who lost his father to leukemia. Arnold, 29, first began donating blood when he was 18-years-old.

“He always said, ‘You never know how many lives you can save’ and ironically, he needed blood donations when he was battling leukemia,” Arnold said about his father.

It’s important for people with rare blood types to donate as much as possible, he said. If a patient does not receive the correct blood type, they will experience medical consequences. For example, if a female patient is A positive, she should only receive A positive or O positive blood, because if she receives A negative or O negative, she will not longer be able to bear children.

Unfortunately, many unit-sponsored blood drives have been cancelled because of the pandemic.

Chaplain (Capt.) Dovid Egert, 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade, the only rabbi on Fort Hood, did not allow the pandemic to discourage the blood drive plans he had already set in place for his brigade.

Egert said he plans to host a blood drive for his unit every two months.

“Simple, they are short on blood,” Egert, 33, who’s began donating blood for the past 12 years, every 56 days, said. “Because without blood, if people downrange get shot and they need blood, well where it is coming from if Soldiers aren’t donating? If they need it — they won’t be able to get it.”

Gida Martinez, heath technician and phlebotomist for the Robertson Blood Center, said the facility is currently in need of all blood types.

“The coronavirus,” Martinez, a 10-year phlebotomist, said about the center’s low blood donations. “People are scared.”

The facility is currently distributing approximately 60 units of blood out each week. Each blood donation is used to create two products: red blood cells and plasma.

“I take it personal, because I’ve had a lot of blood transfusions myself, and I know how important it is,” Martinez said. “If it wasn’t for somebody donating, I’d be dead.”

It’s also good for your health to donate blood, because your body creates new red blood cells, Martinez said.

“It’s good to donate at least two, three times a year for your own benefit, and drinking a lot of water is good for your red blood cells,” Martinez said.

Each person is screened by the Roberson Blood Center before blood can be donated. If a deferral is detected, blood cannot be donated.

Before donating blood, patients should eat a good meal and hydrate.

“Eat a good breakfast, hydrate like a week before coming in, if you don’t have good very good veins that will help you,” Martinez said. “Don’t over exercise your body the day before.”

The Robertson Blood Center provides each donor with an incentive T-shirt, snacks and drinks after the blood is drawn.

“Everyone is extremely professional, and they all take the correct precautions to make sure everything is sanitary,” Arnold said about the staff at the Robertson Blood Center, who’ve been taking extra steps to insure the safety of donors and their staff during the pandemic.

To donate blood, visit the Robertson Blood Center, located at 2250 W. 761st Tank Battalion Ave. on Fort Hood, walk-ins are accepted from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.