FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 6, 2014
(LAREDO) - Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, today (Wednesday) welcomed to South Texas the volunteers and Texas Military Forces and state agency personnel who comprise Operation Lone Star (OLS). She was the keynote speaker at the 2014 VIP day held at the Laredo ISD's Performance Arts Center.
Operation Lone Star is an annual joint effort of the Texas Military Forces, Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas Health and Human Services Commission, local health care leaders and volunteers who provide free medical services to under-served communities in South Texas.
"Operation Lone Star is an outstanding example of a successful military and civil collaboration with a clear and meaningful humanitarian mission," Senator Zaffirini said. "For sixteen years this partnership has not only provided critical medical services to thousands of children and families who need them, but also enhanced emergency preparedness and strengthened relationships between state and military providers and local communities. Equally important, this exercise offers countless meaningful opportunities to improve cross-cultural competency and English/Spanish medical vocabularies."
National Guard members came from throughout Texas; other states, including Tennessee; and even from Chile.
After the 2001 terrorist attacks, Senator Zaffirini wrote to Texas Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Daniel James III to recommend the creation of a division of state military medical forces that could help communities respond to medical emergencies and catastrophic events. In 2003 the Texas Medical Rangers were created based on the senator's recommendation and Gov. Rick Perry's approval. Part of the Texas State Guard, the Rangers respond to Texas public health emergencies and provide significant support each year to OLS.
Now in its sixteenth year of providing medical care in South Texas, OLS also provides critical emergency preparedness and cultural competency training for the Texas Military Forces.
Last year OLS provided more than 45,000 medical services to more than 9,800 persons, and since 1999 it has served more than 100,000 persons in South Texas.
"I especially am proud to have contributed to the creation of the Texas Medical Rangers and growth of Operation Lone Star," Senator Zaffirini said. "The free medical services it provides are critical, especially because South Texas counties continue to have the highest uninsured rates in our state."
This year's Operation Lone Star will offer services 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on Thursday (Aug. 7) and 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on Friday (Aug. 8). The project began on Monday (Aug. 4) at sites including Manzano Middle School in Brownsville, PSJA High School in San Juan, Palmview High School in Palmview, Ringgold Middle School in Rio Grande City and the Laredo ISD Performance Arts Center.
"Operation Lone Star has been able to reach so many families because it locates its clinics at public schools, which are the focal points of so many South Texas communities," Senator Zaffirini said.
Services provided include immunizations for children, diabetic screening, blood pressure screening, hearing and vision screenings, sports physicals and limited dental services.
For more information, contact your county health department or dial 2-1-1.
SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI, D-Laredo, and Dr. Hector Gonzalez, Director of the City of Laredo Health Department, welcome members of the Texas Military Forces to South Texas for the 2014 Operation Lone Star VIP Day.