Team Czech Republic, from left to right: Warrant Officers Jana Hanikova, Marika Bilkova, and Jana Hornickova, and 1st Lts. Suataua Pribylova and Petra Matulkova. The team worked with the Texas Medical Command and observed physicians during Operation Lone Star, a joint civilian and military mission offering free medical and dental care to the South Texas region. Photo by Master Sgt. Michael Lachman, Texas National Guard.
Texas National Guard
BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Operation Lone Star, which provided health care to more than 11,000 South Texas residents in just two weeks last year, has expanded to provide free health clinics in even more locations and included medical personnel from its State Partnership Program country.
Free health services will be provided at locations in Brownsville, Raymondville, Lasara, San Juan, La Joya, Laredo, Hebbronville, Rio Grande City and Zapata this year.
The two-week event is a joint project of the state health and human services agencies, Texas State Guard, Texas Army and Air National Guard, medical personnel from the Czechoslovakia military, county health departments, local service groups and civilian volunteers.
Operation Lone Star covers seven counties and is the largest humanitarian effort of its kind in the United States.
“People turn out for free medical services, and we also tell them about state programs that will provide year-round access to health care,” said Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Albert Hawkins. “Operation Lone Star provides us with an excellent way to reach out to Texans who can benefit from our services.”
State health and human services workers will provide information about health and wellness programs to prevent substance abuse, help people with disabilities and protect vulnerable children and adults.
Local nonprofit organizations also will have staff available to provide information about their services.
“Every year, we see thousands of people along the border take advantage of this program,” said Leonel Vela of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. “For some, it may be their only visit with a doctor all year. That means the information about state services could ultimately be as important to these families as the medical care they receive.”
Operation Lone Star also serves as a way for state and local officials to train for a medical emergency. Setting up the two-week, multi-site clinics becomes a real-time exercise on how to respond to a public health crisis.