Blood donor restrictions also apply to retirees Published Sept. 9, 2002 FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AFPN) -- Some military retirees have been surprised to find that they are no longer eligible to give blood, according to officials at the Armed Forces Blood Program Office here. A substantial number of active-duty and retired military personnel cannot donate blood because of past duty assignments in the United Kingdom and Europe.Officials from the Armed Services Blood Program, which provides blood products for military hospitals and military readiness purposes, have increased their efforts to educate retirees about the restrictions, which were implemented last fall.In the past few months, many retirees have come forward to donate blood because of news reports calling for blood donations. However, some retirees cannot give blood because of standards implemented last fall by the Food and Drug Administration as a precautionary measure against exposure to the human form of mad cow disease.These retirees, as well as some active-duty personnel, cannot donate blood because of duty assignments in the United Kingdom and Europe. The FDA restricted donations from people who lived or traveled in these places during specified timeframes. Department of Defense officials issued a policy based on that of the FDA, which defers retirees, military personnel and family members who meet any of the following criteria:-- Traveled or resided in the United Kingdom from 1980 through 1996 for a cumulative period of three months or more.-- Traveled or resided in Europe from 1980 through 1996 for a cumulative period of six months or more.-- Traveled or resided in Europe from 1980 to the present for a cumulative period of five years or more.-- Received a blood transfusion in the United Kingdom since 1980.-- Received a bovine insulin product produced in the United Kingdom since 1980."We want to stress that retirees who are eligible to donate should continue to give blood to ensure DOD supplies are met," said Major Ronny Alford, deputy director for ASBPO.To find out how you can give blood through the Armed Services Blood Program, people can contact their local military treatment facility.For information on blood deferral policies and on risks associated with travel or assignment in the United Kingdom and Europe, visit the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine Website.