Giving blood for our boys

With our U.S. troops fighting overseas, the Bearkat Army ROTC is taking the initiative on the home front by hosting a blood drive for students to donate blood to be given to the soldiers in Iraq.

The Bearkat Battalion hosted their first successful blood drive in conjunction with the U.S. Army last spring, according to Major Chris Wooten. During the drive, the ROTC collected over 106 units of blood with almost half of that coming from the officers and cadets in the ROTC program.

This year, the bar has been set even higher as Wooten said he hopes more people will show up to donate.

“I’m hoping for a better turnout,” Wooten said. “Our program has grown so I’m hoping we can snag more cadets. Of course, the general public can participate as well.”

Since the ROTC is holding the drive in conjunction with the U.S. Army, all of the blood collected will be sent directly to the soldiers fighting in Iraq. According to Wooten, personnel from the Army Blood Program at Fort Hood in Killeen, TX will be coming to help with the drive and collect the blood to be taken to Iraq.

Wooten also said that donating blood directly to the Army can prevent tax dollars from being spent on costly blood from outside the military.

“When the Army runs out of blood, they have to go to an outside source. Then they have to pay for that blood and spend tax dollars to get it, ” Wooten said. “One pint of blood can cost several hundred dollars. So if you donate directly to the military you can help save tax dollars.”

Yet even a blood drive can’t escape the intense rivalry between the Bearkats and the Lumberjacks of SFA. The neighbors to the north will be competing with the SHSU ROTC to see who can collect the most blood before the gridiron showdown in Nacogdoches on Nov. 4.

“We’re holding the drive in conjunction with the football game against SFA,” Wooten said. “So we’re competing with them to see who can collect the most blood. But they are a smaller battalion and a smaller school.”

In addition to the blood drive, the two ROTC programs are also conducting their annual Football Run in which the battalions literally run the football all the way from Huntsville to Nacogdoches in time for the football game.

Students who are 18 or older and interested in donating to the Bearkat Battalion blood drive can do so from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the HKC on Oct. 31. Weight requirements and travel history may prevent some potential donors from giving, yet the Army encourages anyone who is eligible and interested to give.

“There is always a need for blood,” Wooten said. “No matter your station in life, there are soldiers out there putting their lives on the line. This is one of the best ways to support the troops.”

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