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Fort Hood Press Center
DATE: April 9, 2013 10:00:11 AM CDT

Robertson Blood Bank recognizes top donors

Profiles of Excellence

By Catherine Tharpe, ASBP Blood Donor Recruiter, Fort Hood, Texas

Every day, the Robertson Blood Center collects blood to help save the lives of ill or injured service members and their dependents worldwide.  Every week, units of blood are shipped to Afghanistan to ensure those in combat operations come home to their loved ones.  However, that isn’t the only place donated blood is shipped. Some units are shipped right down the road to Fort Hood’s own hospital, the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center.  Some of those products are donated by the very people who work at Fort Hood’s medical treatment facility — two of which were the top donors from last year. 

Meet Staff Sgt. Patience Waycaster —a resident from Cedar Falls, Iowa, and mom of two who makes time every 56 days to donate her pint of O-positive, despite her busy days of being the non-commissioned officer in charge of hospital education at the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center.  Waycaster, a combat medic since 2006, knows the importance of her blood donation and the impact it makes on the battlefield. 

“Giving is a part of my personality,” Waycaster said.  “It is something simple and easy that I can do.  It’s a part of being selfless.  I know the blood I donate to the Robertson Blood Center goes to soldiers, and I like that.”

Waycaster does more than just donate blood.  She oversees the scheduling of the classrooms in the hospital and works to ensure that just about every 56 days the Robertson Blood Center mobile collection team sets up an opportunity for the staff of the hospital to break away from providing healthcare to saving lives.  Waycaster started donating in high school and continued to donate when she joined the military as a food services specialist in 2002.   She was surprised to hear that she had donated six times last year and was honored to be a guest at the donor recognition ceremony held on Jan. 31. Waycaster said she didn’t count how many times she donated whole blood; instead she made her donations count by giving every time she could.

The top platelet donor from 2012 donated an impressive 20 times. Maj. Thomas Nessler III is originally from South Carolina who served for 5 ½ years in the Army, was discharged honorably, and then went to college.  His blood donations started in college at the United States Military Academy.  He donated there at the annual Armed Services Blood Program West Point drive and has not stopped since.  Nessler completed medical school and schedules his platelet donations around his night shifts as a physician in the emergency department at the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center. 

He has not always been able to donate blood due to various travel restrictions but now that he is eligible, he makes it a point to come in whenever he can. 

“I am a healthy, young guy.  I have good blood and there are those that need it.” Nessler said.  “I can make it in and tell everyone to try to make it in (to donate).  It’s a good thing to do.”

Platelet donations can take a bit of time, anywhere from one to three hours; but Neesler takes full advantage of his donation time catching up with work and emails or studying.  The extra time he uses to do those things also have come with an added benefit — friendship.  A wonderful friendship that has grown between himself and one of Robertson Blood Center’s platelet technicians, Ruth Hill, due to the time spent together to save lives. 

“I like to check in on Mrs. Ruth.  I like to make sure she is doing ok and having a good day,” said Nessler.

“I will miss Nessler when he leaves.  He always comes to donate, even when he is tired from working.  He donates all the time,”Hill said fondly.

Nessler works the night shift at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center from 10:30 p.m. until 8:00 a.m. in the morning, has breakfast, and is ready to donate at 9:00 a.m. with Hill like clockwork.

Both Waycaster and Nessler will be moving later this year.  Waycaster is headed off to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and Major Nessler will find out this May where the Army will take him.  Robertson Blood Center’s staff is appreciative of them both because without dedicated donors like them, lives could not be saved.

To find out more about the Armed Services Blood Program or to make an appointment please visit us online at: To interact directly with some of our staff, see more photos or to get the latest news, visit us here:, and

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Nessler Ruth

(From left to right) Ruth Hill and Maj. Thomas Nessler III have built quite a friendship because of consistent platelet donation (Photo by Catherine Tharpe, Robertson Blood Bank Public Affairs).


(From left to right) Lt. Col. Claire Joseph, Staff Sgt. Patience Waycaster and Sgt. 1st Class Tiffiney Starnes smile for the camera. They both came to support Waycaster at the 2013 Donor Recognition Ceremony as she received a plaque for being a top whole blood donor (Photo by Catherine Tharpe, Robertson Blood Bank Public Affairs).


For more information contact:
Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center
Public Affairs Office
(254) 553-1870
Capt. Erin Cooksley
Fort Hood, TX 76544
[email protected]