‘We’ll be back’

KAPAA — Helen Lacona liked what she saw Wednesday.

“I went to Tropic Care Kauai for problems with my eyes,” said Lacona, known as The Soup Lady. “There was no line, and the doctor said I have a condition which is typical for a person of my age. He prescribed some eye drops, gave me a bottle, and today, I’m a happy person. Tropic Care Kauai is such a wonderful thing for us. If I see any Tropic Care people, I’d make sure they at least had a bowl of soup.”

Tropic Care Kauai served more than 5,000 Kauai people through its three primary sites — Kapaa Middle School, Kauai Community College, and the Eleele Elementary School — and mobile services at Kilauea Elementary School and at the Easter Seals, Waimea branch since the program started on June 20.

The Department of Defense Innovative Readiness Training program wrapped up its final day with an assembly Wednesday evening in the Kapaa Middle School covered court.

Hawaii Adjutant General Arthur J. Logan thanked the 279 military reservists from the different branches of the military for their service and presented several Hawaii National Guard coins to top performers during the tour.

U.S. Navy HM1 Conward Bundrick was presented the overall TC16 mission top performer award for leading the eyeglass production facility in the nursing building at Kauai Community College to crank out more than 2,000 pairs of glasses during the nine-day offering.

“I have an extra set of glasses, now,” said Placido Valenciano. “I went to the Kapaa site and got a pair. There weren’t that many people waiting so the process went fairly quickly.”

More than 900 optical services were provided and more than 600 vital services (health examinations) were performed.

Troops were accommodated in the tent city. More than 9,000 meals were prepared for the reservists.

“Since last Friday, the Monkeypod Jam Shop in Lawai has been opening early each morning to provide complimentary coffee with the Tropic Care volunteers as they head to Eleele,” said Aletha Thomas, owner of Monkeypod Jam. “The MPJ team had such a good time sharing coffee with the reservists every morning. This was our little way of saying mahalo for the amazing medical services they brought to Kauai.”

Lt. Col. Troy Cramer, the IRT program manager, said in addition to the medical services, the reservists did other work, including the Kawaihau Elevated Boardwalk.

On the final day of the concrete pour, one of the reservists took out a “Happy Hooligan” stamp to apply to the concrete.

“The mark you have made on Kauai is as indelible as that ‘Happy Hooligan’ stamp,” Cramer said. “We will be back in 2017, and 2018.”

Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. was overwhelmed at the sea of reservists who gathered in the covered courtyard for a final assembly of Tropic Care Kauai.

“The people of Kauai and Ni‘ihau love you,” he said, struggling to find words of appreciation and gratitude. “God bless you!”


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