People have held blood drives and given blood since community service became an American value. It's only natural that The American Legion - with community service as one of its pillars - be heavily involved in blood donation efforts.
The American Legion Blood Donor Program has existed officially since 1942 to help that cause. Each year - especially since 9/11 - Legionnaires have donated in spades, and departments have coordinated efforts at the post level. The Blood Donor Program honors those departments that best participate in blood-donation efforts, recognizing departments in two areas: for post participation and individual Legionnaire participation. Post participation awards are given to departments with the highest number of participating posts. Individual participation awards are given to departments with the highest percentage of individuals giving blood to the program. Departments are separated into five categories (see below), according to membership size, and honored.
Legionnaires participate by giving blood and reporting it to their posts, which mark the donation on their annual Consolidated Posts Reports. Similarily, posts that host blood drives mark their participation on their Consolidated Post Reports, listing number of drives held and total pints donated (for Legionnaires and non-Legionnaires).
Legionnaires can give blood by making an appointment for a donation at The American Red Cross' website. Posts interested in hosting drives can set up a blood drive by visiting the Red Cross' blood drive registration page. Members and posts can also contact the American Association of Blood Banks, their local American Blood Commission or American Blood Resources Association, or the Council of Community Blood Centers. Local hospitals and medical doctors can also help coordinate community blood drives.
A healthy donor may donate red blood cells every 56 days or double red blood cells every 112 days, according to the Red Cross. Platelets can be donated as few as seven days apart but a maximum of 24 times a year. Platelets are essential for patients who are undergoing chemotherapy or kidney transplants and have weakened immune systems. Donors are given a brief health screening prior to giving blood. The results of it are always kept confidential. Often, lingering health problems such as irregular heartbeats or high blood pressure are discovered during these screenings.
The departments that have the highest turnout for Legionnaires and post participation are honored at the Legion's national convention. The national security chairman announces the winners in front of the convention floor. Certificates are then signed by the national commander and national adjutant and mailed to the winning departments.
Departments also award certificates to posts or individuals who make outstanding contributions or have an outstanding record in blood donor activities. These certificates are signed by department commanders and adjutants. Posts present these awards - signed by post commanders and adjutants - to Legionnaires and non-Legionnaires for exceptional performance in the American Legion Blood Donor Program.
100,000 + members
70,000 to 99,999 members
40,000 to 69,999 members
25,000 to 39,999 members
10,000 – 24,999 members
less than 10,000 members