LIHUE — Kauai needs to love, support and take care of its seniors and veterans.
At least that’s what Richard Fukushima believes.
That’s why he’s running for his first term for Kauai County Council.
“We want to preserve what we have and support our veterans and seniors, who have labored over the years to make Kauai what it is today,” Fukushima said. “I can’t change the government system, but I will try to make a difference in making decisions that would benefit the veterans and seniors and the people of Kauai.”
As a Vietnam veteran who served in the United States Army Security for six years and the Hawaii Army National Guard for 21 years, Fukushima said he understands the needs of the kupuna and veterans who have fought for the freedom of this country.
The 71-year-old, who was born and raised in Kapaa, said he believes that smart spending is the key to assisting those who oftentimes cannot help themselves.
“I do believe it takes a lot of time and money of which most of us don’t have,” Fukushima said. “We have to be stewards of the spending of the government that have been allocated to us through various sources and programs. We cannot be greedy, but be prudent and wise in using the funds the best way possible to help our citizens of Kauai.”
Even still, Fukushima admits, if elected, he’ll be in the minority as the newcomer at council meetings, so pushing his goals for veterans will take some time.
But he’s adamant that his words are not just empty promises.
As a councilmember, Fukushima, whose background includes working at the State of Hawaii Department of Education and the Hawaii State Public Library for 34 years combined, said he knows he’ll have to work with the other members to push legislation forward.
“No one person can make the change alone,” he said. “It takes a group effort and agreement to move forward with love and aloha. It takes a dedicated person who perseveres and puts others before himself to get ahead.”
Fukushima said he is dedicated to pushing his goals forward for seniors and veterans across Kauai.
But Fukushima, who joined the military in 1966 after leaving college, said he hasn’t forgotten about Kauai’s younger veterans.
Although, Kauai has options for older veterans to congregate, young veterans of the Gulf War and other wars — many with post-traumatic stress disorder — “are not being recognized,” he said.
“We should have a place for them,” Fukushima said. “They need a place to meet with other fellow veterans and share their lives, stories and concerns. As a Vietnam-era veteran, there was no welcome home party when we came home. There were no facilities to discuss and help the transition of being in a war and be comforted when we came home.”