Join Life Force: January Is National Blood Donor Month

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January Is National Blood Donor Month. For both the civilian population and active duty service members, there are a number of ways for each of us to do our part. Here are just two.

AABB - Formerly Known As The American Association of Blood Banks


National Blood Donor Month, which takes place every January, provides an opportunity to encourage individuals to donate blood or pledge to give blood at a time of the year when it is typically in short supply due to the holidays, inclement weather and illness. This year, AABB (

http://www.aabb.org/content

) has again teamed up with America's Blood Centers and the American Red Cross to offer blood collection facilities. AABB encourages all eligible donors to schedule an appointment at a local blood collection organization in recognition of National Blood Donor Month. The need for blood is great -- on any given day, approximately 39,000 units of Red Blood Cells are needed. Accident victims, people undergoing surgery, and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer, or other diseases, such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia, all utilize blood. More than 29 million units of blood components are transfused every year. If you would like to donate blood, please use the locator found at (http://www.aabb.org/Content/Donate_Blood/Where_to_Donate/BloodBankLocatorMap.htm)

The Life Force


The Life Force (

http://www.militaryblood.dod.mil/Lifeforce/

) is an elite team of men and women committed to saving lives by ensuring blood is available for service members at home and around the world. Those eligible to donate commit to giving blood once each season. Those who are not eligible to donate commit to supporting blood donation by organizing drives, encouraging and enabling others to donate or volunteering to help at drives. The blood you donate to the Armed Services Blood Program (ASBP -

http://www.militaryblood.dod.mil/

) directly supports sick and injured military members and their families. The ASBP processes donated blood and provides it to local military hospitals, overseas hospitals and ships, combat support hospitals and medics on the front lines. Joining the Life Force makes you a member of an elite lifesaving team. Unlike many specialized units, there is no lengthy training or special skills needed to join. All that is required is a little of your time and the willingness to help friends and family members in need. And they don't just mean blood types! You don't have to be on active duty to help. Military family members, retirees and government employees and contractors are all eligible to join the Life Force. When you join the Life Force by donating blood, you become a vital link for service members and their families. By giving a little of yourself you can reach loved ones around the corner or around the world.

This Week's Not Commented on Topic - Money Money Money Money Money Money

FORMER VA HEALTH CHIEF SAYS SYSTEM FACES SERIOUS FUNDING AND MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES -- Dr. Kenneth Kizer: "We see a future that is not particularly bright for the VA." Few federal programs have seen the kind of turnaround experienced by the Veterans Affairs Department's health care system in the late 1990s. Formerly a poster child for substandard medical care and incompetent management, VA's health care system now is considered by many to be the best in the country. Its ratings for quality of care and customer satisfaction have risen even as the patient load has increased. Major media outlets have credited the agency's use of electronic medical records, unprecedented even in the private sector, with improving medical care, and Democratic presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have held up VA's system as a model for nationwide health care reform. But the department's success is in jeopardy, according to Dr. Kenneth Kizer, undersecretary for health at Veterans Affairs from 1994 to 1999 and the man many credit with leading the management reforms that ultimately fixed the broken health care system. Kizer now serves on the independent Commission on the Future of America's Veterans, which is examining demographic and budgetary trends, as well as changes in both warfare and health care, with an eye to providing the most effective programs and services to veterans. "We see a future that is not particularly bright for the VA," said Kizer, speaking at a forum in Washington sponsored by the New America Foundation, a nonprofit public policy institute. Rising medical costs, aging infrastructure and an increase in patients with serious, and expensive, medical needs all are contributing to growing concern that medical care for veterans will deteriorate under the current system. "Economics are going to be driving some very difficult decision-making down the road," Kizer said. For that reason, the commission is planning to recommend later this year that Congress create a government-chartered entity, structured somewhat like the U.S. Postal Service, to manage health care for veterans, he said. The entity's charter would detail its mission, funding, governance and assets, as well as requirements that senior managers hold specific skill sets and areas of expertise. As a federal agency dependent on congressional appropriations, Veterans Affairs is increasingly ill-suited to manage health care for veterans, Kizer said. The annual appropriations process creates program instability and prevents strategic planning. In addition, the agency cannot exercise the kind of management judgment that corporations routinely exercise. For example, VA has found it extraordinarily difficult to close underused or outdated hospitals since no member of Congress wants to lose a medical facility in his or her district, Kizer said. As a result, the agency can't close hospitals in areas where they're not needed or build new ones in areas where they are needed. "The average age of VA hospitals is 50 years old," said William Diefenderfer, former deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and now a commissioner. "We haven't built a new hospital in 20 years. We need a new hospital in Orlando, but we haven't been able to do it." A government-chartered entity "would have the authority to buy and sell assets and borrow money against them," Diefenderfer said. It also would be able to create new sources of revenue. For example, it could provide health care to all veterans and their families who have the ability to pay - something the VA cannot do currently.

--- Regards, Walt Schmidt