Senator Akaka visits Molokai Veterans
Of particular concern for Molokai veterans was the fact that they must travel off island receive psychological counseling. During the meeting they were told that Veterans’ Affairs globally recognizes the increase in mental health problems from recent wars. Because of this there are plans to expand the mental health team. However, no promises were made as to when counseling would be available on island.
Since Akaka’s veteran’s bill passed last fall, the Veterans’ Affairs have received a raise in funding.
“The increase in funds allowed for a staffing increase which will help as we try to expand services,” said Akaka.
He stated that although he believes much has been improved for veterans in Hawaii since the fall of 2006, there are remaining challenges. Hearing issues first hand from veterans was Akaka’s main reason for visiting Molokai.
“It is so gracious of Sen. Akaka to come and listen to our island,” said county Sen. Danny Mateo. “These guys have real issues that the Veterans’ Affairs needs to address. The neighboring islands have been forgotten for a long time and Sen. Akaka is really trying to remedy that.”
Representatives from Veterans’ Affairs and the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs were also present and provided answers and resources. There were over 100 Molokai veterans present at the gathering.
“I feel strongly that after this meeting, you’re going to see some differences here,” said Sen. Akaka in closing.