Changes to the Armed Services Blood Program donor deferral criteria earlier this year mean that more Fort Hood Soldiers are eligible to donate blood.

Among the changes are the elimination for wait times after returning from Iraq, a reduction in the deferral period after returning from Korea and an increase in the number of states with a one-week waiting period after getting a tattoo.

Under older policies, volunteers who had tattoo work done at licensed facilities in California, Michigan, Utah and Wyoming had to wait 12 months after getting their tattoo to donate. The new guidance reduces that wait time to one week, in line with Texas and many other states.

Two big changes to travel deferrals directly affect Fort Hood Soldiers. Previously, Soldiers deployed to Iraq were required to wait for one year after returning before they could donate, and Soldiers returning from Korea, north of Seoul, had to wait for two years. Those wait periods have been reduced by one year each, with no delay after returning from Iraq and only 12 months after returning from Korea, according to the ASBP.

Donors who have had body piercings other than ear piercings may also donate immediately, as long as the procedure was done with single use equipment under aseptic conditions. Previously, donors with body piercings were deferred for 12 months from the date they received their piercing.

“These changes aren’t just good news for individual donors,” Spc. Patrick Jones, Robertson Blood Center’s operations NCO, said. “This will let units that have recently returned from deployments schedule blood drives for their Soldiers so they can support their teammates who are still down range, and start working towards receiving Certificates of Achievement and other recognition for frequent donors.”

Volunteers who need more information about whether they are eligible to donate blood, platelets or plasma may call the blood center at 254-285-5808.

Individuals and small groups can donate by visiting the center at Bldg. 2250, 761st Tank Battalion Ave., Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Organizations can schedule blood drives at the center or request a mobile blood drive by contacting the RBC at 254-285-5808, by emailing the donor recruiter at david.m.conrad4.civ@mail.mil or by sending a message through its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FtHoodRBC.

Armed Services Blood Program

Since 1962, the Armed Services Blood Program has served as the sole provider of blood for the United States military. As a tri-service organization, the ASBP collects, processes, stores and distributes blood and blood products to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and their families worldwide.

As one of four national blood collection organizations trusted to ensure the nation has a safe, potent blood supply, the ASBP works closely with our civilian counterparts by sharing donors on military installations where there are no military blood collection centers and by sharing blood products in times of need to maximize availability of this national treasure.

To find out more about the ASBP or to schedule an appointment to donate, please visit www.militaryblood.dod.mil.

To interact directly with ASBP staff members, see more photos or get the latest news, follow @militaryblood on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and Pinterest.