Kaua‘i Veterans Corner for Sunday, June 5, 2011

Kaua‘i Veterans Cemetery Improvements Coming Soon

Congressional mandate requires all veterans cemeteries be maintained as national shrines, a lasting tribute to America’s veterans and their families.

There are currently 131 national veterans cemeteries in 39 states, and an unknown number of state veterans cemeteries located within close proximity to loved ones and friends. National cemeteries are funded by the federal government (VA). State’s must fund their own cemeteries. Through the VA’s State Cemetery Grant Program, states may compete for VA funding to construct or improve their cemetery(s) provided they are in compliance with VA’s lofty standards. Tri-annual assessments are conducted to ensure that the same standards of excellence required of national cemeteries are met by state cemeteries before any VA grant funding is approved.

In accordance with Hawai‘i State Law, the Hawai‘i Office of Veterans Services (HOVS) is responsible for the administration of the VA’s State Grant Program while each county is responsible for the daily operation and maintenance of their respective cemetery(s).

Beginning in 2006, the HOVS initiated a statewide campaign to advise and educate local county officials on the requirements of the VA State Grant Program. Following a number of formal assessments by representatives of the HOVS, State Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (DoVA), a review of statewide Cemetery Master Plans was initiated. An international planning, design and consulting firm based in Hawai‘i was contracted to assess the existing plan, implement recommended changes, and ensure compliance with standards established by the DoVA.

For the Kaua‘i Veterans Cemetery, that review is near completion and on May 11th the Senior Project Manager for Belt Collins Hawai‘i, Ltd. briefed representatives of the county Parks and Recreation Department and members of the general public on county/state planned and DoVA funded upgrades and improvements at the Kaua‘i Veterans Cemetery. They include:

— Three added columbaria – Completion expected in early 2012.

— New maintenance and equipment storage facility – Completion expected in 2013.

— New pedestrian and main gate and entry sign – Completion expected in 2013.

— Extend stone wall along Lele Road – Completion expected in 2014.

— Transfer of land from state DLNR to Kaua‘i County for cemetery expansion – The transfer of six acres of land behind the existing committal shelter is expected in 2014/2015.

— Realign entranceway and redesign committal shelter – As the cemetery continues to expand over the coming years, the farmland area behind the existing committal shelter will be graded and developed into future cemetery grounds. As this happens, the existing shelter will undergo a redesign and complete transformation resulting in it facing the opposite direction. An expansion of the existing paved access road and parking area is also in the works. The current main access road to the flag pole area and committal area will be removed, and the redesign will include a graded, beautifully landscaped walkway assessable to pedestrians only. A new irrigation system will round off this phase of the Kaua‘i Veterans Cemetery Master Plan and completion is projected in 2019/2020.

Since its establishment in 1950, the Kaua‘i Veterans Cemetery has become the final resting place of nearly 2,000 veterans and their families. But as time has deteriorated this sacred facility, we must not allow it to diminish our commitment to hold, in the highest regard and with the deepest of respect, the memory of these men and women whose legacy was service, whose heritage was sacrifice, and whose gift was freedom. May they rest in honored peace.

Flag Day, June 14

The image of the American flag represents the soul of our nation and generations of patriots before us have cared for, have celebrated, have been inspired by, and many have died… for our flag. On June 14, please pause to celebrate what our flag represents, and offer a heartfelt “Mahalo” to those who proudly display this America symbol of patriotism and national pride on their vehicles, at their homes and at their businesses.

Vietnam-era Veterans Annual Family Outing

From 9 a.m. to noon on June 18 at the Kaua‘i Veterans Center, the annual family outing for Vietnam-era veterans will be held.

Veterans July 4th Celebration

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., July 4, at the Kaua‘i Veterans Center, the veterans’ Fourth of July celebration will be held.

Kaua‘i Veterans Council Officer Selections (2011 – 2012)

Congratulations to: William “Bill” Honjiyo – Commander; Norberto Garcia – Vice Commander; Milton Oshiro – Adjutant; and Ralph Clark – Treasurer.

New ID Card/CAC Office Hours at PMRF

The new hours are from 8:30 to 11:15 a.m. Monday/Wednesday/Friday only. Questions, call Ms. Tita Yorkman at 335-4493/4235 x4235.

Better Choices, Better Health Workshops Offered

Open to seniors 60 and over, these interactive workshops were developed to improve the quality of life for persons with long-term health conditions (such as diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, emphysema, heart disease, stroke, asthma, cancer, fibromyalgia, neurological disease, being overweight, chronic pain, depression, or any other chronic health challenge). Workshops are held in Princeville, Kapaa, Lihue, Koloa, and Waimea. There is a modest fee. For workshop dates and times, call Charlyn, Agency on Elderly Affairs, 241-4470.

• Tony Elliott, Kaua‘i Office of Veterans’ Services, can be reached at 241-3348.

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