Remarks by Congressman Ed Case in Support of S. 1760 (Daniel Kahikina Akaka Department of Veterans Affairs Community-based Outpatient Clinic)
Washington, May 16, 2022
I rise today to join my colleagues in strong support of House passage of S. 1760, introduced by my colleague, Senator Mazie Hirono, and passed unanimously by the Senate. This critical measure, companion legislation to HR 3406, which I co-introduced in the House with its principal sponsor, Congressman Kaiali’i Kahele, will designate the new community-based outpatient clinic of the Department of Veterans Affairs, now literally rising out of the ground at Kalaeloa in Hawai‘i, and known to date as the Advanced Leeward Outpatient Healthcare Access, or ALOHA, project, as the "Daniel Kahikina Akaka Department of Veterans Affairs Community-Based Outpatient Clinic."
Daniel K. Akaka was many things through his long and full 93 years of life. Teacher, member of this House from 1976 to 1986, the first U.S. Senator of Native Hawaiian ancestry from 1986 to 2012, mentor to generations, and on. And of all of these, he was a deeply proud veteran, having served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Second World War, deploying to the Western Pacific in support of the critical island-hopping campaign which won the Pacific war.
Senator Akaka carried his pride and passion and commitment to our nation’s veterans into his work in Congress. As member and Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, he produced an unmatched record of progress on health care, compensation and other benefits for veterans, including crafting the New Veterans GI Bill in Congress to ensure more education benefits for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. And in this Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, it is fitting to recognize his work focusing on specific issues affecting our Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander veterans.
The importance of the ALOHA project to our veteran ‘ohana (family) throughout Hawai’i and the Pacific cannot be overstated. On its projected completion in late 2023, it will bring our VA health care system to our veterans, relieving significant and growing pressure in Hawai’i on that system. increasing health care access for Hawaii’s over 110,000 veterans and more, and alleviate significant and growing logistical and capacity challenges at Tripler Army Medical Center and the Spark M. Matsunaga VA Medical Center.
I cannot think of any more deserving and appropriate individual to grace this facility and those who work and are healed there with his name, and his still living, breathing spirit, than Daniel Kahikina Akaka. I urge adoption of this measure so that it may be sent directly to the President for his consideration and enactment.
Mahalo nui loa (thank you very much).