By Matthew Langston
Leader’s Training Course
Cadets at the Leader’s Training Course ultimately hope to give back to their country by serving in uniform. Toward the end of each company’s stint, they get a chance to give to the Fort Knox community.
Dozens of Cadets this summer have volunteered to give blood to the American Red Cross, doing so at a critical time when donations typically plummet. Before Echo Company contributed Tuesday, the agency already had collected close to 300 pints of blood, a number comparable to previous years.
As the rest of the females in her platoon went, Cadet Victoria DeBerry said contributing seemed a great opportunity to help others. Giving blood can help those in need, she said, but also is a gesture of humanity.
“I’ve never given blood before today, so that was a plus,” said the Echo Company Cadet, who attends Ithaca College in New York. “I’m actually O-positive, which is the universal donor.”
The Red Cross is in its fourth year of a partnership with the Leader’s Training Course, coming to Cadets to administer the donation process.
Tammy Ritchie, a donor representative for the Red Cross at Fort Knox, said receiving blood from Cadets is significant for the agency with typical summer shortages.
“We usually collect about 400-600 (pints) during the time frame we are here, depending on the number of Cadets they have come,” she said. “It helps our blood supply and patients considerably during the summer.”
Donation slumps to the Red Cross coincide with summer school vacations, as 30 percent of the area blood supply comes from high school and college students. Ritchie said Cadets help make up for the loss.
Ritchie said the process is fairly quick, as they receive all Cadets within the company at one time. Once Cadets arrive, the process starts and Cadets begin helping those in need.
“We get them, we process them and get them out all within about three and a half hours,” Ritchie said. “Their drill sergeants are really supportive of the drive and stay here with them to make sure everything runs smoothly.”
Cadet Vincent Anderson of Echo Company said coming to LTC is something a person does to help their country. But giving blood is something a person can do to directly help those around them.
“I give blood a lot,” Anderson said. “I feel that giving blood is doing something more for your community.”
Anderson said he talked a few fellow Cadets into giving blood because they were skittish around needles. He also said those who can donate blood should, because it takes no more than an hour to help people in need of blood because of various reasons.
“There are always a lot of things happening in this world,” he said. “There could be a bus crash where a lot of people need blood, and by us giving blood, it saves lives.”
Ritchie said donating is safe and simple, and for each pint of blood the Red Cross receives, up to three people can be helped. The partnership between the Red Cross and LTC is one she hopes will continue in the future.
“It’s something you can give of yourself that’s going to give somebody else an entire lifetime,” she said. “To me, it’s just a very unselfish act that everybody should do, not just the Cadets.”