Aloha mai kākou. I am excited to introduce myself and my inaugural column for Ka Wai Ola.
Earlier this year, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) formed a new committee for Native American and Native Hawaiian veterans called “The Tribal Advisory Committee.” The committee charter was signed by VA Secretary Denis McDonough on April 23, 2021, and the committee’s purpose is to provide guidance to the VA on all matters pertaining to Indian Tribes, Tribal Organizations, Native Hawaiian Organizations and Native American Veterans. The 16-person committee has one at-large seat and one seat reserved for Native Hawaiians.
This past October, I was honored to be selected by McDonough to sit on The Tribal Advisory Committee and represent the interests of Native Hawaiian veterans and their ‘ohana.
To promote effective communication in this new role, I will be writing a column each month in Ka Wai Ola to share news from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that is relevant to Native Hawaiian veterans – from VA information that is specific to native peoples, to general veteran benefit awareness topics.
Most Native Hawaiians have U.S. veterans in their ʻohana. So while some of the topics I will cover and the news that I will share via this monthly column may not directly apply to every reader, they may well apply to someone you love – and with regard to benefits, could tremendously affect the quality of life for the veterans in your ʻohana.
Mahalo to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for this opportunity to share.