August 7, 2008

Operation Lone Star Comes to Hebbronville

Manuel De La Rosa

(August 7, 2008)

HEBBRONVILLE--A three-day free medical program called Operation Lone Star just wrapped up in one Coastal Bend town. It's a program that provides free medical services for needy families and this was the first time that it was offering those services in the small town of Hebbronville.

Operation Lone Star is in its tenth year of operation. In the past, the operation has been held in several border towns in the Rio Grande Valley, but this year, they decided to expand the program to Hebbronville.

The Texas military forces gave free medical checkups, immunizations and health education for three days in Hebbronville. More than 500 people, including the Dominguez family, came to check out Operation Lone Star.

"It's good because it's something free that we can take advantage of," said Erica Dominguez, who brought her daughter to get immunized.

Operation Lone Star comes to towns in South Texas where residents either don't have health insurance or lack access to doctors.

"I had an immunization and I also had a physical done," said Adriana Miller, a Hebbronville resident. "The doctor was very thorough and it helped me from having to travel out of town as many other people in the area."

Doctors and medical staff are soliders for the Texas National Guard who saw a little bit of everything while seeing patients.

"They're telling us if we weren't here maybe their diabetes would go unchecked or maybe they wouldn't be diagnosed with that high blood pressure that we are able to diagnosed them with," said Dr. Mona Khanna, one of the doctors from the Texas National Guard.

Military commanders said they use this operation as an exercise.

"It allows us to get a hands on experience with dealing with lots of people over a short period of time, just like we would do in a real disaster if we were called into service," said Colonol Frank Stead, who is the military commander overseeing this Operation Lone Star in Hebbronville.

Doctors said educating these underserved communities about healthier living and given them checkups will lead to a longer life.

"We do this because we want to do it," Col. Stead said. "We have a heart for it because we see we can provide care and assistance for folks who need that who wouldn't get it otherwise."

These residents are thankful Operation Lone Star came to Jim Hogg County and they can't wait for it to return next year.

--Manuel De La Rosa, Area 3 News,

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