ROBSTOWN, Texas — Many people are not able to afford the healthcare they need or aren’t able to get to it, resulting in many skipping out on getting health services. But thanks to the U.S. Army Reserve, community members are getting the opportunity to receive free health services for anyone that needs it.
The health services are being held at Banquete Elementary School and include general check ups, physical exams, optometry services, dental services, mental health services, OBGYN services, and a pharmacy. E.R. and infectious diseases specialists are also readily available. They are also offering COVID-19 and back to school vaccinations.
This program is part of the U.S. Army Reserve’s Innovative Readiness Training Program, and it’s goal is to prepare service members with training for missions they might face during war.
Corina Mata went to the health clinic on Wednesday to receive dental services, but was also offered a physical when she got there; something she said she wouldn’t have thought to go to. She said the doctor was able to discuss topics she hadn’t even thought of discussing.
“Its been a couple of years since I’ve had that so just being able to come and do it, it’s I don’t know, it makes me feel nice,” Mata said.
The U.S. Army Reserve said around 800 people that went to Banquete Elementary School have taken advantage of the services so far, saying the most popular services people are going to are vision and dental.
Some service members like Shannon Dyer, a captain of the U.S. Army Reserve, said it’s a way to give back to the community.
“It brings great satisfaction to be able to actually care for patients which a lot of times they don’t get, and being Army they get to see the green and helping our own people,” Dyer said.
The Texas A&M Colonias program submitted an application to the IRT program on behalf of Nueces County and the county got approved for the services. Banquete ISD was one of the partners that made it possible to have it at the elementary school.
The services are an eye opener for some patients like Noemi Garcia, who got feedback that made her realize where she’s at in terms of how healthy she is.
“It opened my eyes on myself to take care of myself more with my physical body and my family too, to take more charge of getting more fitness, getting more healthy,” Garcia said.
Juan Lopez, the Banquete Site NCOIC, is a part of the U.S. Army Reserve and said he is getting his masters in public health. He said it was rewarding to give back to under-served communities because he’s passionate about it.
“I like have a heart for helping the community, especially with those folks within certain disparities and marginalized communities. So it’s something that I love to do and something that hopefully when I complete my program I’m able to go ahead and help those within my local community back home,” Lopez said.
The Texas A&M Colonias program will have to submit an application again for the services to be offered next year.
The free services at Banquete Elementary School will end on Thursday and will be open from 8AM-3PM.