Operation Lone Star, which provided health care to more than 11,000 South Texas residents in just two weeks last year, is expanding this summer to provide free health clinics in even more locations.

Military personnel, state and county officials and hundreds of volunteers will provide free health services at locations in Brownsville, Raymondville, Lasara, San Juan, La Joya, Laredo, Hebbronville, Rio Grande City and Zapata this year.

The two-week event is a joint project of the state health and human services agencies, Texas State Guard, Army and Air National Guard, county health departments, local service groups and civilian volunteers. Operation Lone Star covers seven counties and is the largest humanitarian effort of its kind in the United States.

“People turn out for free medical services, and we also tell them about state programs that will provide year-round access to health care,” said Albert Hawkins, Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner. “Operation Lone Star provides us with an excellent way to reach out to Texans who can benefit from our services.”

State health and human services workers will provide information about health and wellness programs to prevent substance abuse, help people with disabilities and protect vulnerable children and adults. Local nonprofit organizations also will have staff available to provide information about their services.

“Every year, we see thousands of people along the border take advantage of this program,” said Leonel Vela of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. “For some, it may be their only visit with a doctor all year. That means the information about state services could ultimately be as important to these families as the medical care they receive.”

Operation Lone Star also serves as a way for state and local officials to train for a medical emergency. Setting up the two-week, multi-site clinics becomes a real-time exercise on how to respond to a public health crisis.

Operation Lone Star sites will provide care from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday. For more information, call 2-1-1.

Operation Lone Star Sites for July 27—31:

La Joya: Dr. Javier Saenz Middle School, 39200 Mile 7 Road, Penitas.

Raymondville: Raymondville High School, 1 Bearkat Blvd.

San Juan: PSJA High School, 805 W. Ridge Road.

Brownsville: Raul A. Besteiro Middle School, 6280 Southmost Road.

Operation Lone Star Sites for Aug. 3—7:

Laredo: Louis J. Christen Middle School, 2001 Santa Maria Ave.

Rio Grande City: Fort Ringgold Middle School, Fort Ringgold Campus.

Hebbronville: Hebbronville Middle School, 910 N. Wilhelma.