Senator Hirono visits Schofield

| April 12, 2013 | 0 Comments
 U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono (center right) and Col. Daniel Whitney (center left), commander, U.S Army Garrison-Hawaii, hold a discussion with Hale Kula Elementary School faculty and family members during a visit to the school, April 3. The senator wanted to visit Hale Kula before construction begins in the summer. (Photo by Sgt. Matthew Ryan, 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono (center right) and Col. Daniel Whitney (center left), commander, U.S Army Garrison-Hawaii, hold a discussion with Hale Kula Elementary School faculty and family members during a visit to the school, April 3. The senator wanted to visit Hale Kula before construction begins in the summer. (Photo by Sgt. Matthew Ryan, 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

Sgt. Matthew Ryan
25th Infantry Division Public Affairs

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Students and faculty waited patiently with lei and warm welcomes at the front entrance of the Hale Kula Elementary School.

The students were excited about the distinguished visitor.

The car pulled up and then out stepped U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono, the first female senator of Hawaii, on her first official visit to the school.

Principal Jan Iwase of Hale Kula Elem. greeted Hirono as she stepped out of her vehicle at the school and presented her with a kukui nut lei.

“This was some welcome,” said Hirono, who toured, here, April 3.

During her visit to the post, the senator toured the school, the 25th Infantry Division Headquarters, the Warrior Transition Center and Army Community Service.

“The senator is on the Armed Forces Committee, and wanted to see our school prior to the construction project, which is funded by a Department of Defense grant and State grant,” said Iwase.

The Hale Kula was granted more than $25 million from the Department of Defense, and more than $6 million from the State of Hawaii to upgrade the school, which was first built more than 50 years ago. The grant will help the school make critical facility improvements in order to address student overcrowding.

The renovations will include removal of titles and new flooring, interior and exterior painting, installation of ceiling fans and replacement furniture. The main costs will be for a new library and media center, new admin center, new covered play court and new classroom buildings, and upgrading current classrooms to meet with standards set forth by DOD. The renovations are planned to start this summer and take a few years to complete.

Following the school tour, the senator met with the command team of the 25th ID. Hirono serves on the Veterans Affairs Committee and Judiciary Committee, and she is a member of three subcommittees: Personnel, Readiness and Management Support. She said she is concerned about the health of the force and concerned with suicide rates and sexual assault in the military.

Following the briefing, the Senator had lunch with Tropic Lightning Soldiers. From the ranks of staff sergeants to captains, they met with the senator at the Warrior Inn dining facility for an open discussion about various topics of how recent budget cuts have effected the training requirements and overall welfare and morale of their units.

Some of the concerns were about lack of money for supplies, such as fuel and ammunition for training. One concern shared by many of the Soldiers was the recent reinstatement of the tuition assistance program that had been cut from the Army.

Hirono is one of the main supporters for an amendment for protecting the TA program.

“I am very pleased to see this important bill that protects tuition assistance for our brave service members has passed both the House and the Senate,” said Hirono. “I understand all the concerns and worries of family members and service members.”

Hirono mentioned it is going to be a long and hard process, but she is dedicated to helping the military and their families.

“We have to work together on this, we will get through it,” she said.

After lunch, the senator took the opportunity to visit the Warrior Transition Center, which helps Soldiers prepare for transition out of the Army, whether for educational purposes or seeking additional medical help.

During her tour at the WTC, she met with six Soldiers to learn about their experience. All shared their stories and how the staff has helped them get into college and work towards a degree before they leave the military service.

She wrapped up her tour at the Army Community Service center.

Hirono said she received a good tour, here, and she wants to work with the 25th ID to ensure Soldier and family member health, well-being and quality of life.

 

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Category: Community, Education, Leadership

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