Skip to main content

Military Health System

Important Notice about Pharmacy Operations

Change Healthcare Cyberattack Impact on MHS Pharmacy Operations. Read the statement to learn more. 

Skip subpage navigation

Frequently Asked Questions

Read questions and answers about the Armed Services Blood Program and about donating blood.

Q1:

What does the updated 2023 Individual Donor Assessment specifically mean in terms of the deferral for donating blood?

A:

Guidance would shift to a three-month deferral based on sexual contact, high-risk sexual activity with new partner(s) in the past three months. Donors previously deferred for positive responses to screening questions specific to MSM, may be re-assessed for blood donation. The ASBP has revised their donor screening policies and processes to fully incorporate the individualized donor assessment and will use the new screening procedures effective December 2, 2023. Additional FAQs on this can be found here.

Q2:

What is the Armed Services Blood Program?

A:

The ASBP is the official blood program for the U.S. military. The mission of the ASBP is to provide quality blood products and support for military health care operations worldwide. As a joint operation, the ASBP represents all Services and is tasked with the collection, processing, storage, transport, and distribution of blood and blood products to ill or injured service members, their families, retirees, and veterans worldwide. The program manages blood requests from the Combatant Commands by directing available blood supplies when and where needed.

Q3:

Is the ASBP the same organization as the American Red Cross?

A:

We are not. The military blood program was begun by President Truman in 1952, and has been its own fully operational, distinct blood program since 1962. After the Korean War, the ASBP took over collecting, processing, and transporting blood products for the military community from the American Red Cross. The ASBP is one of four organizations that ensure this nation has a safe, potent blood supply. We work closely with all civilian blood agencies; American Red Cross, America's Blood Centers, Blood Centers of America and other local hospital organizations in times of need. However, the ASBP is a Department of Defense program, supporting the military community first and foremost.

Q4:

If I donate to a civilian organization and tell them I want my donation to go the military, will it go to the ASBP?

A:

No. While the ASBP does work with our civilian counterparts in times of need, blood cannot be donated to the ASBP through a civilian organization. When civilian agencies collect blood on a military installation, an agreement is made to ensure that for every  unit collected, a certain number of credits are set aside to be used upon request by the ASBP. Many service members who are treated in civilian hospitals receive blood from civilian agencies and the ASBP provides blood to civilian agencies when needed. Sharing donors is part of how we all work together to save lives. However, the only way to know your donation will definitely go to the ASBP, directly supporting service members on the battlefield, is to look for the ASBP red, white and blue blood drop.

Q5:

Who does an ASBP donation go to?

A:

The ASBP is responsible for providing blood and blood products to deployed service members in the heart of the battlefield. While ASBP blood recipients are most often thought of as deployed service members injured in the line of duty, the ASBP also provides blood for service members and their families back home and in military treatment facilities around the globe. Additionally, the ASBP's recipient base extends beyond the military community. In cases of natural disasters or other catastrophes, the ASBP is called upon to serve civilians in need, not only here at home but globally as part of humanitarian missions. Anyone receiving blood or blood products in a combat area will receive blood transported by the ASBP. To know that your donation is directly supporting the military overseas and at home, look for the red, white and blue blood drop when you donate.

Q6:

Am I eligible to donate?

A:

Most healthy individuals can donate to the ASBP; however, there are some reasons a person may be deferred from donating temporarily, indefinitely, or permanently. In general, a person must weigh at least 110 pounds, be at least 17 years of age (age may vary by state and weight based on type of donation giving. Contact your local ASBP blood donor center for details), have been feeling well for at least three days, be well hydrated and have eaten something prior to donating.

Q7:

What is the donation process like?

A:

The actual whole blood donation only takes about ten minutes; however, there are steps that come before and after donation to keep donors healthy and the blood supply safe. In general, the entire blood donation process takes about 45 minutes to one hour. Actual times vary by site and the number of people donating that day. It also depends on the type of donation made, where a whole blood donation takes less time than a plasma or platelet donation. However, plasma and platelet donations can be done more often than a whole blood donation.

Q8:

What do I need to bring to my blood donation?

A:

To help the donation process run smoothly, please bring the following documents with you to your donation:

  • Photo identification
  • A list of all foreign travel history since 1980
  • A list of medications and immunizations taken in the past eight weeks

It is also important to make sure you have eaten something prior to your donation, are well-hydrated, and have been feeling well for at least three days. Learn more by visiting going to our Can I Donate page.

Q9:

Where can I donate?

A:

There are more than 20 ASBP blood donor centers in the United States and around the world. To find a blood donor center near you, visit our Blood Donor Centers page.

Q10:

How can I find a blood drive in my area?

A:

Finding a blood drive in your area is easy using our online drive and center appointment system. By clicking the "Donate Blood" link found on our page, you can easily search for a blood drive in your area. If you would like to make an appointment or get reminders of upcoming blood drives or appointments, you will need to create a profile. This will put you in the system and let you stay up-to-date on all things ASBP in your area.

Q11:

Why are there no blood donor centers or drives near me?

A:

We love that we have wonderful supporters all over the country and around the world. Unfortunately, we cannot be everywhere. Since we are a government agency, our funds are taxpayer dollars, which we spend with great care. This includes money for conducting remote mobile blood drives and strategically selecting the areas we travel. We do travel to many areas outside of our centers. Even if a donor center might not be near, some of our centers make regularly scheduled drives at other military locations.

Q12:

Why am I deferred from donating?

A:

Deferral criteria have been established for the protection of those donating and for those receiving transfusions in accordance with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory requirements, Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies (AABB) standards, and ASBP policies. To find out more about our deferral policies, visit Can I Donate? or call your nearest ASBP donor center to check with a staff member, or email us here for additional information. A temporary deferral should not discourage you from coming back. We always need donors!

Q13:

What are travel deferrals?

A:

There are some specific conditions and activities that may prevent a potential donor from being eligible to donate. One reason is travel to areas where illnesses are or have been prevalent. Though most travelers will not become ill, there is a period of time where a traveler may be infected but not display symptoms. To ensure the health of blood recipients, travelers are deferred from donating until the window of potential infection has passed.

Q14:

Can civilians donate blood to the ASBP?

A:

Yes! Civilians are indeed able to donate blood at one of our centers or blood drives provided the donor can access the donor center or the location of the blood drive. All of our blood donor centers are located on military installations, and we conduct drives only on federally owned or leased properties per DOD policy.

Q15:

What is the best way to support the ASBP if I can't donate?

A:

The best way to support the ASBP if you are unable to donate is to spread the word. One way to do that is to engage with us by:

  • Following us our ASBP Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages
  • Following your local donor center social media pages
  • Sharing posts about drives
  • Commenting on the need for blood and other topics

You can also support the ASBP by encouraging others to donate, volunteering at a drive or conducting a blood drive in your area.

Q16:

Why does my travel history or recent deployment prevent me from donating?

A:

There are some specific conditions and activities that may prevent a potential donor from being eligible to donate. One reason is travel to areas where illnesses are or have been prevalent. Though most travelers will not become ill, there is a period of time where a traveler may be infected, but not display symptoms. To ensure the health of blood recipients, travelers are deferred from donating until the window where symptoms may appear has passed.

Q17:

What's Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and what's the deferral?

A:

Creutzfeldt-Jakob (CJD) disease is also called Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or "Mad-Cow disease." BSE is a progressive neurological disorder in cattle that results from infection by an unusual transmissible agent called a prion (pronounced pree-on). The nature of the transmissible agent isn't well understood, but the most accepted theory is that the agent is a modified form of the normal prion protein. It's thought that the normal prion protein changes into a harmful form that damages the brain of cattle.

The U.S. used to defer people seeking to give blood if they spent more than a specified period of time in specific countries considered "at risk" for CJD or variant CJD. In April 2020, the FDA updated its guidance for vCJD deferrals by eliminating the majority of the deferrals for those who spent time in European countries or on U.S. bases in Europe. Those locations were previously considered to have been exposed to a potential risk of transmission of CJD/vCJD. In May 2022, the FDA updated its guidance once again for vCJD deferrals and there are now no restrictions for blood donors. It's been lifted completely for all European travel.

Q18:

How can I sponsor a blood drive in my area?

A:

If you know of the local ASBP blood donor center in your area or contact information, reach out to them directly. If not, contact us to find out more about how to sponsor a drive in your area us.

Last Updated: July 11, 2023
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on X Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery