SAN JUAN, RGV – Operation Lone Star is back in South Texas next week.

The five-day program (July 25 – 29), held in five locations throughout South Texas, is used as an exercise to prepare for health emergencies.

It is open to individuals of all ages and no identification is required. However, there could be a waiting time. Minors must be accompanied by parent or legal guardian to obtain any of the services available.

This year the clinics will be set up in Brownsville, Laredo, San Juan, Rio Grande City, and La Joya.

Medical services provided during Operation Lone Star include:

·      Immunizations

·      Blood Pressure Checks

·      Diabetes Screenings

·      Hearing and Vision Exams

·      Medical Evaluations including Sports Physicals for Students

·      Dental Services

·      Vision Exams and Mobile lab to make prescription glasses

One of the program’s biggest supporters is state Rep. Ryan Guillen of Rio Grande City. “Operation Lone Star returns to South Texas on Monday, so be sure to stop by for medical services, or lending a helping hand and volunteer,” Guillen said.

Operation Lone star offers free medical services for low-income families with no insurance. All sites will offer services such as child immunizations, hearing and vision screenings, diabetes and blood pressure screenings, and sports physicals. The Rio Grande City site will also provide dental services and vision exams for prescription glasses to all adults and children of the area.

“This is the eighth year that Laredo has participated in this event. There is a significant population that is not insured and we provide them with checkups,” Hector Gonzalez, director of the City of Laredo’s health department.

In addition to providing health services to the community, the program serves as training in case of a state of emergency such as natural disasters. The annual event is an opportunity to prepare all partners and organizations involved for a public health emergency.

“The reason why this is an important event is that it serves as a training exercise for an emergency on a massive level. Here in the lower Rio Grande we are lucky that we haven’t had a hurricane that has caused us to evacuate. Operation Lone Star helps us prepare for those types of state of emergencies,” Gonzalez said.

The growth of Operation Lone Star has attracted a lot of attention, which has led to an increase of partners joined in the cause. Partners include Cameron County Health and Human Services, Hidalgo County Health and Human services, City of Laredo Health Department, Texas Military Department, community volunteer groups, Texas Department of State Health Services, and other health and human services agencies.

“Operation Lone Star is a public health emergency preparedness exercise. Held annually, it is a joint collaborative effort between local, state, federal and private partners,” Hidalgo County Health Department said.

The residents surrounding the sites have since been relying heavily on Operation Lone Star. So much so that the medical personnel involved in the program receive about a thousand people daily. The program for most is the only time they receive health care or see a physician.

“We encourage all citizens to take advantage of the free medical services being made available to them,” Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia said.


Monday through Thursday, all clinics will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. On Friday, they will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.


Brownsville: Vela Middle School, 4905 Paredes Line Rd.
Laredo: Laredo ISD Performance Arts Center, 2400 San Bernardo Ave.
La Joya: Juarez-Lincoln High School, 7801 W. Mile 7 Rd.
Rio Grande City: Ac2E Magnet Elementary School, 1 S. Fort Ringgold.
San Juan: PSJA High School, 805 West Ridge Rd.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying this story shows Staff Sgt. Jose Mendoza, Texas Medical Command, Texas Army National Guard and Lt. Col. James Fancher, Medical Brigade, Texas State Guard, work on a dental patient at Operation Lone Star in Mission, Texas, July 28, 2015. OLS is an annual training event for Texas Military Forces to work with state and local partners to train for disaster response. The dental service soldiers are part of a team of dentists, dental assistants and dental students who served more than 200 local community members each day at Palmview High School. (Photo: Texas State Guard/Col. Robert Morecook)