COL Robert Morecook, Texas State Guard Public Affairs
CAMP MABRY, AUSTIN, Texas – Operation Lone Star (OLS) provided approximately 53,000 medical services to almost 10,000 patients during a two-week period as part of a public health exercise and humanitarian mission in South Texas.
The Texas Military Forces, led by the Texas State Guard, supported the Texas Department of State Health Services during this 13th annual mission. Col. Don Prince, the military commander for OLS stated, “Operation Lone Star is an exceptional opportunity for Texas Military Forces and public health officials to strengthen community relations and further develop interagency cooperation while training for real world disasters.”
Seven medical sites offered free services to thousands of underserved residents along the southern border of Texas, with assistance from the U.S. Public Health Service and county and local health departments. The mission was successfully completed on Friday, Aug. 5.
Lines started forming early each day for the clinics in Brownsville, San Juan, Mission, Rio Grande City, Laredo, Hebbronville and Rio Bravo. The clinics ran from July 25 to Aug. 5, with specific dates varying by site.
Each OLS site was a complete well health clinic as well as a medical treatment facility. Patients’ heights, weights and medical histories were taken. Blood pressures were checked. Blood samples were screened for diabetes, and immunizations were given. There were stops for nutrition education and for vision and glaucoma screening before a patient would see a doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant, if needed.
Texas residents benefitted from the free medical services, making the event extremely popular and successful among the persons attending. For long-term medical care, many patients were sent home with written prescription in hand, usually for a low cost generic medication at a local pharmacy.
As well as helping the citizens of South Texas, many of whom are medically uninsured and thus do not have access to regular medical care, the clinics gave Texas Military Forces and other public health organizations the chance to collaborate in running temporary medical care facilities.
When disasters happen in Texas, frequently hurricanes, large treatment clinics may be required. Exercises such as Operation Lone Star allow public health agencies to hone their skills in advance of disasters.
By preparing in advance for disasters, exercises such as Operation Lone Star are designed to protect the health of Texas and its citizens.
The Texas State Guard is one of three branches of the Texas Military Forces (TXMF), operating under the command of the Adjutant General of Texas and the Governor as Commander-in-Chief of all state military forces. The TXMF includes the Texas Army National Guard and the Texas Air National Guard.
The mission of the Texas State Guard (TXSG) is to provide mission-ready military forces to assist state and local authorities in times of state emergencies; to conduct homeland security and community service activities under the umbrella of Defense Support to Civil Authorities; and to augment the Texas Army National Guard and Texas Air National Guard as required.
Headquartered at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, the TXSG functions as an organized state militia under the authority of Title 32 of the U.S. Code and Chapter 431 of the Texas Government Code.