CBCO is extending Veterans Day 2020 to an entire week as a way to thank those who have served our country. As much as we would love to, we can’t feature every single veteran here on social media. But we’ve chosen several veterans who continue to serve others as blood donors, volunteers who put together blood drives in their towns, and who work one-on-one with our donors. Thank you to our veterans and those who are currently serving our country, and thank you to those who are also involved with saving lives through helping CBCO. We appreciate you, and so do the 44 healthcare facilities that rely solely on CBCO to provide the blood, platelets, and plasma their patients need.
Richard Lotz – Branson, Missouri
Richard Lotz, of Branson, MO, began donating blood when he was stationed in Germany during the Vietnam era. He saw injured soldiers being cared for at a military hospital, and he felt that “one thing I could do was give blood to help save lives of soldiers.”
Richard has donated blood regularly since 2011 at CBCO blood drives hosted by Cox Branson Hospital. When he learned the pandemic had caused a massive loss of scheduled donations at CBCO which, in turn, put local patients at risk, he encouraged his American Legion post in Branson to host its first-ever blood drive.
“Now I tell veterans, ‘This is important. We need you, as a veteran, to step forward again. It saves lives. It might be your grandchild. It might be your own child. Yes, we gave part of our lives as military personnel, but please give again,’” Richard said.
Teddy Fleck – Springfield, Missouri
Teddy Fleck, of Springfield, received two units of blood from CBCO donors several years ago while hospitalized for bleeding ulcers. He had been a regular blood donor prior to his 12 years of military service taking him to Germany during the 1980s. For many years, FDA regulations prevented those who lived in Europe during a specific time period from donating blood due to the risk of Mad Cow Disease. Just last week, Now Teddy was able to donate again as a result of the FDA has revised those guidelines.
Being able to donate blood again is important to Teddy because it allows everyday people to help save the lives of others. “As a recipient of blood, you’re grateful that others have donated. You don’t realize how important that donation is until you’re the one who needs it,” Teddy said. “When you join the military, you’re taking an oath to defend your nation. By giving blood, you’re serving your nation because you’re helping others who need blood.”
If you’re reading this and you have been deferred due to the risk of Mad Cow disease, please visit https://www.cbco.org/fda-changes to get the ball rolling. There’s a link at the bottom of that page to complete a Donor Eligibility Inquiry form, and then someone from CBCO will be in touch. Thanks, Lifesavers!
Melanie Fisher – CBCO Donor Specialist
CBCO Donor Specialist Melanie Fisher retired from the Navy in 2012. She served three tours of duty – one during Operation Iraqi Freedom and two during Operation Enduring Freedom. “I’ve been in all wars since 1988,” Melanie said. She also helped set up Wounded Warrior Battalion West at Camp Pendleton in California.
Melanie sees many fellow veterans while she helps staff CBCO’s mobile blood drives across our region. “They have raised their right hand to support and defend the constitution of the United States. By giving the gift of life by donating blood, they’re continuing to support our fellow countrymen,” she said.
“I was in field medicine, which is combat medicine,” Melanie explained. “I was a Chief Navy Corpsman Fleet Marine Force. Our job was when the Marine was injured, their corpsman took care of them. We saved their lives.” She views her job at CBCO as an extension of saving lives every day.
Jim Adams – Nixa, Missouri
Jim Adams, of Nixa, was inspired to join the military by someone very important in his life. “My dad was in the Navy and I wanted to be like him,” he said.
His own service in the Navy ended as Operation Desert Storm kicked off. He has been in the National Guard since the mid-1990s, working as an aircraft engine mechanic then and now.
Jim began donating whole blood with CBCO in 1999 and he’s now one of our platelet donors. “It ties into an attitude of service,” Jim said of his donations. “Knowing that I’m giving back to the community. That’s one way I can help people that I don’t even know.”
Jim encourages other veterans to make donating blood a habit. “This is a way they can give back and still serve their community, even though they aren’t in the military any longer.”
Olan Morelan – Springfield, Missouri
Olan Morelan, of Nixa, served our country as a Fire Protection Specialist in the Air Force for four years, and he’s currently Assistant Fire Chief, Support Services, for the City of Springfield’s Fire Department. He has donated with CBCO since 2010, beginning with whole blood, and he began donating platelets five years ago.
“The lessons I learned in the Air Force have stayed with me my whole life. I have always felt honored to be included in a group of such selfless people,” Olan said.
Olan often encourages others to donate with CBCO. “I always tell people that giving blood is the easiest community service you can do,” Olan said. “You go in, they make you super comfortable, visit with you, and you are done. The only thing you have to do is make the time to go. That’s it. Super easy and it can save someone’s life.”
Trevor Jones – CBCO Staff Member
Trevor Jones, a Donor Specialist at CBCO, has served 12 years in the military and plans to continue another eight years to reach retirement. “I was a 68W combat medic for 10 years and then reclassed to 68C to become an LPN, of which I have been for two years now,” he said. Trevor donates blood and works in this field, he says, because the importance of it rings true in his experience in the Army Reserves.
“So many of my closest friends and the coolest people I have ever met in my life have served alongside me over the years. They are my brothers and sisters that I care for deeply, with lives and families of their own that they have to spend long amounts of time away from. Several of them have also made the ultimate sacrifice and been injured or killed on the battlefield serving our country.”
If I can make a difference in their lives, serving as a nurse and transfusing them blood on the provider end when I am called up for deployment or mobilization, or as a volunteer donating every eight weeks to help save them and get them back to lives and families back home, I’ll make that choice every single time,” Trevor said.
Rebecca Long – CBCO Staff Member
CBCO staff member Rebecca Long spent two years as a lab tech in the Naval Reserve before being put on inactive reserve status when she moved to Europe with her husband, who was in the Army.
“Because I spent three years in Germany, I haven’t been allowed to donate until now because of the risk of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease,” she said, referring to what many of us know as Mad Cow Disease.
Rebecca took great pride in serving others while in the Naval Reserve and while working at Community Blood Center of the Ozarks. “I used to say I give back by working for the blood center, but now I will be able to donate,” she said.
Changes to FDA guidelines now make many who served in Europe eligible to donate blood for the first time in many years. Rebecca’s Army veteran husband donated blood at CBCO for the first time during the week of Veterans Day, and Rebecca plans to donate this week, as well. If you’re reading this and you were previously told you’re ineligible to donate, please visit https://www.cbco.org/fda-changes to find out if your eligibility status has changed.
“Now that military people who served in Europe can donate, I tell them, ‘Finally! Now we can!’ I am very excited to now be able to donate,” she said.
Veterans Hospitals in Southwest Missouri, Northwest Arkansas, and Southeast Kansas
As the final feature during our week of honor veterans, we wanted to point out a fact that many people many not realize. We are not only the sole provider of blood, platelets, and plasma to all hospitals in southwest Missouri, northwest Arkansas, and southeast Kansas, but we’re also the sole provider to all veterans hospitals within our territory. We take great pride in this fact, and we’re so glad to our generous donors care enough about those who served in our military that they continue to make sure blood is on the shelves, ready for those who served.
Thank you, again, to our veterans. We hope everyone enjoyed our extended veterans’ tribute this week.