I am deeply honored to represent some 112,000 Hawai‘i veterans and their families. This is a responsibility I take very seriously, especially as our veterans ‘ohana is one of the largest percentages of any state in our nation both overall and in key areas like women and minority veterans and delivery of services is often complicated by our unique qualities.
As a result, our veterans community sometimes faces unique challenges in Hawai‘i and throughout the Pacific that require targeted advocacy with our federal government and tailored solutions. I am especially able to address these issues and the broader challenges facing all of our country’s veterans as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, which has responsibility for overseeing and funding of all of our federal veterans programs. My focus areas are:
Addressing Hawai‘i Veterans’ Needs
Hawaii’s veterans often face unique challenges that others on the mainland don’t have to face. It is my priority to tackle these issues head-on. Below are four examples:
Strengthening Veterans’ Healthcare
An efficient and robust veterans healthcare system is critical to keeping our nation’s promises to our veterans, yet too often veterans do not receive the help they desperately need. To help keep our promises, as a Member of the House Appropriations Committee, for Fiscal Year 2023 I helped draft and pass legislation that provided $314.4 billion in both discretionary and mandatory funding for the VA, an increase of $12.3 billion above the prior year’s level. This included increases for mental health services, suicide prevention outreach, gender-specific healthcare, telehealth and opioid abuse prevention.
I am also committed to improving the VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act. While over 30 veteran service organizations supported the program, I am aware that many veterans in Hawai‘i have had difficulties with the transition. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I will continue working closely with my colleagues and the VA to ensure the Act’s provisions are designed and implemented with the best interests of our nation’s veterans in mind.
Assisting with Your Individual Needs
One of my most critical responsibilities as your Congressman is to help with your individual needs. Although I cannot mandate a particular result or override the decision of a federal agency, I can often assist with answering questions, finding solutions or simply cutting through red tape to ensure veterans receive the benefits they are entitled to receive. If you or a veteran you know has questions or requires assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my office at https://case.house.gov/forms/casework.
PACT Act Information
This historic legislation has expanded access to care for all our veterans exposed to toxic substances in the line of duty, the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act. On March 3, 2022, I voted with a majority of the House to pass the PACT Act to fulfill our promise to our veterans and on August 10th, 2022, the President signed the Act into law.
Recognizing the harms inflicted by exposure to burn pits and airborne hazards, the PACT Act codified a presumption that servicemembers stationed in certain theatres were exposed to toxic substances at particular times. This legislation shifted the burden of proof off veterans and their loved ones and eased access to care for a broad array of conditions and cancers. It also streamlined the Department of Veterans Affairs’ processes for establishing toxic exposure presumptions, ensuring that veterans do not have to wait decades for help.
With the enactment of this measure, we have held true to our promise to our nation's veterans that we will care for them when they come home. To apply for PACT Act benefits or learn more about eligibility requirements please click HERE.