Updated info for HI Vets

VAPIHCS Veterans,

Closed for July 4th

VA Pacific Islands Health Care System (VAPIHCS) will be closed on July 4th, which occurs this year on a Tuesday. However, we will still have regular hours in our clinics and our pharmacy on the Saturday preceding the holiday. I hope everyone has a happy and safe July 4th as we celebrate the birthday of our Nation.

July 4th is a sacred day in our country. It’s a day that we stand united because every American celebrates this day. Some Americans came into their freedom later than others. We didn’t start out as a perfect union and we still have a long distance to go. However, as I look at my staff and the Veterans we serve, I feel confident that we have the capacity, empathy, and integrity to take our country past the failures of our Founding Fathers and embrace the brilliance of our Declaration of Independence, which espouses liberty, justice, equality, and freedom.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

We must make these words in to the everyday realities of our country. We must make sure that all people have an experience that not only embodies, but enhances these words. Words have power and they must be operationalized in their meaning in order to make a difference in all of our lives and experiences. That means EVERYONE, not just a select few, or only those that you feel are worthy of acknowledgement. These words give us a goal to aspire to. A nation where all people are given the same chance in life for success, opportunities, and happiness in their pursuits. We realize this dream everyday at VAPIHCS, from celebrating our LGBTQ+ Veterans to recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday. We are acknowledging an idea that was always promised; even when it was not fully realized. That idea is freedom and justice for ALL. I am proud of how far we have come as a Nation, and that VA is leading the way in recognizing the sacredness of all people, and treating every Veteran with dignity and respect. But make no mistake, this journey is far from complete.

The focus on my life, like many of you, has been on being of service to this great nation. I served for more than 35 years in the U.S. Navy and have spent my life since then in federal service, focusing on providing safe, compassionate, quality health care. I am proud of the work I have done, and the work that I continue to do as the Director of the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System.

The United States of America means a lot of things to a lot of people. For some, it means the freedom to speak out and say whatever is in your heart. For others, it is a safe place to come to from far-off shores. For me, it has been the foundation I built my life on, and the collection of ideals that I have always served with devotion and pride.

This country has changed a lot in the past few decades. We’re growing so much and learning to include everyone in our communities. I am proud of the work that we have done to become more inclusive, more tolerant, and empathetic. We are always stronger together. Our strength is a symbol of hope to the world. We exemplify a set of principles that give others something to aspire to.

We are ONE NATION, BLESSED by God, offering liberty and justice to all who live here. Mahalo to all at VAPIHCS for your tireless efforts to improve the health and lives of our Veterans. Happy July 4th to each and every one of you. 


Dementia Care Professionals Month

Some parts of aging can be beautiful. There is joy in looking back on one’s accomplishments and having the time to pursue hobbies and things that make you happy. However, some parts of aging are difficult, and others are terrifying. Dementia is one part of aging that causes understandable fear in Veterans.

Speak with your doctor and create a plan together for your golden years. Ask your doctor for help filling out your advanced directive and planning for nursing home care if it may be needed. Making sure that your doctor knows what you want will ensure that your wishes can be followed even if you’re not able to state them down the road. Call 1-800-214-1306 today to make an appointment to talk about planning for aging.
It is Dementia Care Professionals Month, so this is also a good time to thank our staff who work with Dementia patients. Memory Care is both difficult and rewarding, and here at VAPIHCS we are grateful to all our health care professionals who work in Geriatrics and Memory Care. Thank you for all that you do.

Toxic Exposure Legislation – PACT ACT

In August of 2022, the President signed a law that allows Veterans exposed to toxic chemicals during their military service the ability to access expanded VA benefits. We have been holding Community Call events to enroll Veterans who are newly eligible. Our next event is in Guam on July 22, 2023, and July 23, 2023. We will be at Micronesia Mall at 1088 West Marine Corps Drive, Space 215AB, Center Court, 2nd floor (near the food court) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both days. This event will include PACT Act registration, vaccines, blood pressure checks, diabetic foot checks, VA Benefits Assistance, and health screenings. Veterans in Guam should come see us at this event if they are already signed up with us, or if they need to sign up.

Thoughts from Chaplain Richie Charles

At about 1,400 feet below sea level, the Dead Sea has the lowest elevation and is the lowest body of water on the surface of Earth. Situated in between the borders of Jordan and Israel, it has managed to draw tourists from around the world ever since the ancient times. But how could such a renowned body of water be called “dead”? Well, the answer lies in the fact the Dead Sea is 10 times saltier than the ocean, so no life form, except bacteria, can survive in its waters. Fish carried in by the Jordan River die quickly in its waters.


The Dead Sea became this way because it has no outlet, no way to pass along the water it received to other bodies of water. So, though it used to receive large supplies of water from the Jordan River and other streams, the only way for water to escape that basin was through evaporation, leaving the waters more and more concentrated with salt and minerals.


With no outlet, and no way for it to pass along its rich minerals to other bodies of water, the Dead Sea was able to receive, but it was unable to give. 


We too can reflect that throughout our lives, we have been recipients of many things – both tangible and intangible. But despite all that we have received, and continue to receive, many can testify that what helps make life meaningful are not merely what we receive in life, but what we’re able to give to others. Service is a form of giving, and it’s often true that when we use our talents and energies to benefit others, our own sense of personal fulfillment is enhanced. Though receiving from others can truly enhance one’s sense of happiness in the moment, there’s a deeper, even more profound sense of fulfillment that comes from allowing our lives to benefit others.

One Team, One Ohana!
Adam M. Robinson, Jr., MD, MBA, CPE
Director, VA Pacific Islands Health Care System
36th Surgeon General, USN

Stay Informed

Help Bo Mahoe take “Honor Flight” to DC!!!

We have just learned that Bo Mahoe has been selected to take the “Honor Flight” to Washington DC to tour the National Mall…. during the flight they have “Mail Call”…..
I would like each of you to write a letter, send a card or send an email to his wife Karen,  for Bo to receive on his Honor Flight from your organization.
Bo is the most dedicated Veteran I know and he is so deserving of this trip….. I want to make sure he knows how much we care and appreciate all he does for our Veterans!
Please send to his wife Karen’s office, or email below before July 20th.
Karen Mahoe

Office of Veterans’ Services

333 Dairy Road, Suite #203

Kahului, HI 96732


And if needed emails to



Changes to the Beneficiary Travel Program

VAPIHCS Veterans,

Reminder of Changes to Timely Filing Rule

VA has made a change to the Beneficiary Travel program. Starting on June 9, 2023, the 30-day timely filing rule began to be enforced again. The COVID-19 Congressional Mandate that allowed for extension of claims has expired. Travel claims must be submitted within 30 days of an appointment for them to be reimbursed. VA Pacific Islands Health Care System (VAPIHCS) wants to make sure you get reimbursed for all your travel, so please get those claims in on time.

Additionally, Veterans should keep in mind that proof of attendance is required for all community care claims. Claims will be denied if there is no proof of attendance, so ensure that you get proof when you attend appointments. If you need assistance, please call the Beneficiary Travel program at (855) 574-7292.

New Uber Health Connect

Veterans in the Hawaiian Islands are now able to participate in the VA Uber Health Connect. This is a new initiative which can provide supplemental transportation to eligible Veterans needing access to and from medical care. The VA Uber Health Connect Initiative launched as a pilot program in 2022 at ten VA Medical Centers. From January 2022 to March 2023, VA Uber Health Connect completed more than 30,000 Uber rides across 408,529 miles for Veterans. These rides have increased access, improved clinical engagement, and saved VA an estimated $35 million. The cost savings are in part from faster emergency department and inpatient discharges as well as closing the gap on an estimated 28,000 missed appointments. If you think you might be eligible for the program, talk to your doctor about it or call 1-800-214-1306 to get more information.

Summer Safety Tips

The Whole Health theme of the month is surroundings, and this week I’d like to talk about how that relates to being safe in the summertime. We all love summer. It’s a great time to get out and snorkel, surf, dive, fish, paddle board, swim, hike, kayak, and enjoy all that Hawaii has to offer. However, all our favorite activities come with risks, and managing those risks can help you to stay healthy and safe.

First, it’s fun to be outdoors and to take family photos in the flowers. However, it’s also important to bring your EpiPen any time you might be around things you are allergic to, like bees or other animals. Please remember that expired medications are not as effective, so call us to speak with Pharmacy about renewing your prescription if it is expired. Make sure to carry your EpiPen with you, because you never know when you may need it. You can also make an appointment to talk with your doctor about antihistamines that may help you with issues like post-nasal drip while everything is blooming.

Another thing to be mindful of is jellyfish. Most jellyfish stings are not fatal, but they can cause vomiting, stomach pain, nausea, muscle pain, dizziness, and other unpleasant symptoms. It’s recommended that you wear a long-sleeve rash guard and leggings or a wetsuit when you swim. You may also want to check the jellyfish forecast before you plan a beach day, because jellyfish often end up on the beaches during certain phases of the moon.

When you swim, you should also remember to wear reef-safe sunscreen. Even if you’re not prone to sunburns, you still increase your risk of melanoma when you go out without sunscreen on. Additionally, remember to never go into the ocean alone. Even if you know a place well, a sudden swell or rip current could leave you in danger. A buddy can help you get to safety or signal for help if you are in distress. This goes for folks hitting the hiking trails too. Always go with a friend. Finally, don’t forget to trust your instincts if the sky or the water look dangerous. When in doubt, don’t go out!

Boating is another popular summer activity. Please remember that drinking and driving isn’t just dangerous in a car. Make sure your captain is sober when going out on a boat. Life jackets are required in the state of Hawaii on boats, kayaks, paddle boards, and other watercrafts. Always keep your life jacket on. Even if you know how to swim, you may fall and be knocked unconscious before going into the water, and a life jacket could save your life. Finally, be mindful when you’re driving a boat of snorkelers, surfers, divers who may be about to surface, and all other people in the water. Our oceans belong to everyone, so let’s try to make sure everyone stays safe in the water.

Summer is a wonderful time to enjoy Hawaii with family and friends. However, we also want to make sure that you have a safe and healthy summer. From packing healthy snacks to re-applying sunscreen throughout the day, there’s so much you can do to make sure that you’re putting your health and safety first. Every Veteran in our care is important to us, and we want all of you to have a safe and healthy summer!

Hernia Awareness Month

June is National Hernia Awareness Month. The term hernia may be spoken about often, but many people are unsure what a hernia is and how it can be treated.

What Is a Hernia?

A hernia is an uncomfortable condition in which an organ or tissue slips through a weak area in the surrounding muscle or connective tissue that holds the abdominal organs in place. It can occur and develop anywhere in the body, especially in the abdominal wall.

Common Symptoms of Hernias

• Pain or soreness in the affected area, especially when bending over, coughing, or lifting
• Visibly noticeable protrusion

• Burning, gurgling, or aching in the hernia bulge

• Weakness, pressure, or a feeling of heaviness in the abdomen

Five Main Causes of a Hernia

• Congenital defects

• Prior surgeries

• Pregnancy

• Improper lifting of heavy objects

• Advanced age & loss of tone

If you feel that you may have a hernia, please call 1-800-214-1306, and make an appointment with your doctor today. Hernias are not always dangerous, but they should be evaluated right away. Many will require surgery, although the urgency will vary by case.

Thoughts from Chaplain Richie Charles

We all love to feel appreciated; but have you ever found yourself wanting to express gratitude, but wanted to do so in a way that was genuine and conveyed the depth of how you felt? Well, help for this might come from an unexpected place: art.

When artists create paintings or poems, they are essentially crafting elaborate “thank you notes” to the various aspects of the world they seek to portray. A painting might be an expression of gratitude for the enchanting sunset of spring or the invigorating breeze that animates calm waters. The artist is in effect saying, “I have noticed something extraordinary that deeply touched me, and I find it valuable enough to capture and share it with others for their enjoyment.”

But what distinguishes exceptional art from mediocre art is the level of detail with which the artist observes and portrays the beauty they have encountered. A skilled artist, first and foremost, takes us beyond the mere acknowledgment that spring is pleasant; they delve into the specific elements that contribute to that pleasantness. For instance, they may describe leaves as soft as a newborn’s hands or raindrops delicately trickling down purple tulips. As artists or poets move from general descriptions to specific details in their portrayal, the scenes they depict come alive in our minds.

Similarly, expressing gratitude is most effective when we are able to be specific. We are surrounded by loved ones and colleagues, each possessing unique attributes and skills that bring joy and blessings to our lives. By articulating in detail the goodness we perceive in them, whether they are our loved ones or colleagues, our expressions of gratitude become more uplifting and authentic when we share them.

One Team, One Ohana!
Adam M. Robinson, Jr., MD, MBA, CPE
Director, VA Pacific Islands Health Care System
36th Surgeon General, USN

White House Announces 3.1 Billion for homelessness, including veterans

White House announces $3.1 billion to address homelessness, including among veterans

Tackling veteran homelessness is part of a White House announcement Thursday to spend $3.1 billion to combat the overall crisis through community support grants.

The new measure is “the largest-ever, single-year investment … to help communities address homelessness,” the Biden administration said in a statement.

About 33,000 veterans across the country lack access to permanent housing, down 11% since 2020 and down 55% since 2010, according to the 2022 Point-in-Time Count released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The VA has been addressing the issue of homeless veterans for the past two years with a target of placing 38,000 veterans into permanent housing. The VA exceeded that goal by finding more than 40,000 veterans a place to live in 2022.

The $3.1 billion will be provided to HUD’s Continuum of Care Program, which awards funds for community groups and local governments to help provide support to families facing the threat of homelessness.

The money will not be solely earmarked for veterans, but the White House is encouraging officials with the Continuum of Care program to work with participants to “coordinate with local Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers to ensure these funds are effectively supporting veterans and their families.”

Other efforts in the new investment include $11.5 million in legal services grants, a first of its kind, according to the White House, to help veterans obtain representation in landlord-tenant disputes, as well as assist in other court proceedings such as child support, custody or estate planning.

“For veterans, legal support can be the difference between becoming homeless and having safe, stable housing,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in a statement. “With the award of these first-of-their-kind VA grants, more veterans will have the legal representation they deserve, which will increase their access to housing and employment.”

The Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Service is being awarded more than $58 million to help connect homeless veterans with job opportunities. The money will go toward veterans learning occupational skills and participating in on-the-job training in fields such as manufacturing, construction, information technology and cybersecurity.

There also will be a new series of “boot camps” conducted by HUD and the VA to help VA medical centers and public housing agencies find veterans a place to live more quickly.

We are looking for a new internet and mailing list person.

We are looking for a new internet person for HI Vets

Hello everyone, we are sorry for the recent delay in our HI Vets newsletter. Unfortunately Melinda Moore, a wonderful person who had been working on the website and newsletter passed away a few months ago and we are now in the process of getting everything back in working order. We are looking for someone who would be interested in running the website and newsletter, the website is basic WordPress and our newsletter is sent out via constant contact. We could provide some small amount of training, please email info@hivets.com, also on that subject if you have emailed anything to info@hivets.com and not received a response please resend it as we don’t have access to any of the old emails which were sent before May 15th. Thank you