WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives on May 17 passed legislation introduced by Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) to name the Advanced Leeward Outpatient Health Care Access (ALOHA) VA clinic currently under construction on Oahu after the late former Hawaii Sen. Daniel Kahikina Akaka – who first spearheaded the project working alongside Hawaii veterans.
The bill passed the Senate in December 2021, and it now goes to President Biden to be signed into law. Rep. Kaiali’i Kahele (D-Hawaii) introduced the House companion bill.
“Throughout his decades of public service, including as chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Sen. Akaka was a determined champion for Hawaii’s veterans,” said Hirono. “I’ve been honored to help continue the work he began to build a new health care facility for Leeward Oahu veterans, and I’m pleased that the facility will bear his name. I can think of no better way to recognize Sen. Akaka’s commitment to Hawaii and our veterans.
“Once completed, the Daniel Kahikina Akaka Department of Veterans Affairs Community-Based Outpatient Clinic will provide the high standard of care Leeward Oahu veterans deserve in a convenient facility close to their homes.”
“Renaming this project after Sen. Daniel K. Akaka recognizes his decades of federal advocacy and compassion for our veterans and their families,” said Kahele. “We are finally seeing the project he first envisioned come to fruition. The Daniel Kahikina Akaka Department of Veterans Affairs Community-Based Outpatient Clinic will benefit approximately 87,000 veterans and serve as a critical source of quality care for future generations.
“Mahalo nui loa, Sen. Hirono, for your partnership in spearheading this legislation to honor and remember Sen. Akaka’s legacy of service to Hawaii’s veterans.”
Akaka served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and worked to expand access to GI Bill benefits, bring recognition to Asian American World War II veterans, and secure one-time compensation for the Philippine Scouts, among other things. Akaka said caring for veterans is “one of our most sacred obligations as a nation,” and this clinic will help provide that care for veterans in Hawaii.
In March 2021, Hirono and Kahele secured authorization for the General Services Administration (GSA) to provide approval to award a 15-year lease at an annual rent of $5.9 million for the ALOHA project. It also authorizes an up-front lump-sum payment of $18 million to facilitate construction of the facility.
When completed, the ALOHA Project will be a 66,000-square-foot multi-specialty VA clinic in Leeward Oahu and provide primary care, mental health, audiology, women veterans care, physical and occupational therapy, dental, prosthetics, and specialty care for veterans in the area. The clinic will also reduce wait times, increase provider availability, and help alleviate traffic challenges and parking deficits veterans currently experience on the Tripler Army Medical Center campus, where the Spark M. Matsunaga Veterans Affairs Medical Center is located.