Operation Lone Star 2006 Brings Humanitarian Medical Services to the Rio Grande Valley
First Lieutenant Timothy R. Birmingham
It’s a hot Sunday afternoon in Weslaco, Texas, home of the Weslaco National Guard Armory and temporary headquarters for the Texas State Guard and Texas Army National Guard Joint Medical Task Force (JMTF). Charged with implementing the Medical Reserve Corps operations associated with Operation Lone Star 2006, nearly two hundred military personnel begin arriving in pressed Battle Dress Uniforms (BDU), ready to serve one of the fastest growing annual humanitarian events in the state.
Serving under the direction of Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) civilian authorities, JMTF military physicians, nurses, administrative personnel, and safety/security forces deployed and implemented a variety of basic medical and dental services designed to improve healthcare opportunities for thousands of medically under-served individuals in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
For some of the individuals served, JMTF medics are the only physicians they will ever visit in their entire lifetime.
Since 1999, Operation Lone Star has provided basic medical and dental services each summer. In the eight years since it began, Operation Lone Star has consistently improved, offering more services and drawing larger segments of the Rio Grande Valley population. Over this period, the military side of the operation has evolved. Commanded first by US Navy reserve medical personnel, then the Texas Army National Guard, and for the first time in 2006, the Texas State Guard. The Texas State Guard has participated since 2004, so this was their third year of increasing responsibility.
Commanded by Brigadier General Marshall H. Scantlin, Commander of the Texas State Guard Medical Reserve Corps; this highly talented cadre of Medical Reserve Corps professionals and Texas Army National Guard personnel launched and managed a record-setting operation, serving more than 7,000 individuals between July 24th and August 3rd. As well as being an overwhelming success, the operation represents an impressive ability that is unique to highly motivated volunteer organizations. Essentially, the JMTF team assembled in less than 24 hours, working together for the first time in many instances, and successfully operated a fully functional, broad-based business spanning the scope of product services, administration, workers’ compensation, risk management, logistics, shipping/receiving, accounting, human resources, media relations, and security. The operation was a smooth success based on the military Incident Command System (ICS) model. What community wouldn’t benefit from a talented company that can pull together and successfully serve more than 7,000 individuals in less than two weeks?