Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Statement on VA Assessment of Yukio Okutsu Veterans Home

September 21, 2020
Press Release
Honolulu, HIToday, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the following statement following the release of assessment reports from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency examining the Yukio Okutsu Veterans Home in Hilo: 
 
“With twenty-four deaths and 70 positive infections of our veterans, the VA’s report makes it clear that the facility’s management failed to take action to prevent this massive outbreak at a home entrusted with the responsibility of caring for our veterans. The culture of complacency that allowed this incredible loss of life and suffering must end. Those responsible for this must be held accountable. I will continue to support all efforts to conduct oversight and follow-through to ensure immediate action is taken to keep our veterans and their caregivers safe. Sadly, for many of the residents and their families, it’s too late.”
 
Background: Opened in 2008, the Yukio Okutsu Veterans Home in Hilo is the only dedicated veterans care home in Hawaiʻi. The facility is named for the late Technical Sergeant Yukio Okutsu, who was awarded the Purple Heart and the Medal of Honor for his bravery and service in the Army’s legendary 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II. 
 
Since August, the home has been battling a growing COVID-19 cluster. A majority of residents at the 95-bed facility have tested positive, as have a mounting number of staff members. The 24th resident of the home died on September 20.
 
About Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is serving her fourth term in the United States House representing Hawai‘i’s Second District, and serves on the House Armed Services and Financial Services Committees. She previously served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Homeland Security Committee. She was elected to the Honolulu City Council in 2010, and prior to that at age 21, was elected to the Hawaiʻi State Legislature in 2002, becoming the youngest person ever elected in the state. Tulsi Gabbard has served in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard for over 17 years, is a veteran of two Middle East deployments, and continues to serve as a Major in the Army Reserves. Learn more about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard...
 
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