Nearly 4,000 Hawaiʻi Residents Participate in Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Veterans Telephone Town Hall

July 26, 2017
Press Release

To listen to a full recording of the telephone townhall, CLICK HERE.

Washington, DC—On Tuesday afternoon, nearly 4,000 Hawaiʻi residents participated in Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s (HI-02) live “Telephone Town Hall” focused on Hawaiʻi veterans. The congresswoman was joined on the call by:

  • Jennifer Gutowski, Director of the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System (VAPIHCS)
  • Karen Gooden, Director of the Honolulu Veterans Affairs Regional Office
  • Ron Han, Director of the State of Hawaiʻi Office of Veterans’ Services (OVS)

They discussed veterans legislation being considered by Congress, including the “Forever GI Bill” that passed the House with bipartisan support Monday, reviewed resources for Hawaiʻi veterans, and answered questions about veterans’ healthcare, benefits, services, and more.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said: “Hawai‘i veterans continue to face unique challenges accessing the care they’ve earned from the VA, including the geographic challenges posed by our island state, backlogs on benefit claims and appeals, medical provider shortages, and much more. Our veterans’ telephone townhall was an opportunity for VA and state leaders to hear directly from our veteran community on these issues, answer questions and provide updates on what is being done at the state and federal levels to address these concerns, and identify the work that lies ahead in ensuring our veterans receive the very best care and service.  The participation and input of thousands of veterans and community members across Hawaiʻi is critical in helping us move forward together.”   

Key concerns raised by veterans on the call include:

  • Federal funding for the VA Choice program, and backlogs on veterans being reimbursed for non-VA medical care accessed through the VA Choice program
  • Access to healthcare services for neighbor island and rural veterans
  • Addressing appeal backlogs at the VA and improving overall responsiveness
  • Access to quality mental health care
  • Extending access to Hawaiʻi veteran treatment courts to veterans incarcerated in Hawaiʻi and sent to the mainland due to prison overcrowding
  • Expanding services and facilities for homeless veterans  

Each year, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s office helps hundreds of Hawaiʻi veterans get assistance from the VA and other federal agencies. Constituent advocates are located in every county, and hold regular “casework office hours” to help constituents, including veterans, with federal agency casework. For a list of upcoming office hours, click here. For information on how the congresswoman and staff can assist constituents, click here.

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