Hirono Visits with Maui Veterans, Hāliʻimaile Pineapple
By Maui Now Staff
US Senator Mazie Hirono met with Maui veterans and service members, administrative officials and workers at the Hāliʻimaile Pineapple Company as part of a visit to the Valley Isle this week.
The visit with veterans at the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center comes ahead of similar stops on ʻOahu and Hawaiʻi Island as the senator prepares to host field hearings in Hawaiʻi this summer for the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
During the visit, Hirono provided a legislative update to Maui-based veterans and listened to concerns relating to health care, benefits and rural issues.
According to Hirono, key issues of importance to veterans on Maui include the construction of the Maui Multi-Service Veterans Complex and the continuity of care at the VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Kahului.
Senator Hirono also met with service members of the Hawaiʻi Air National Guard in Kahului, where she thanked them for their work in protecting the country.
She also highlighted the work of 292nd Combat Communications Squadron, a unit based on Maui that is responsible for maintaining emergency communications during natural disasters.
According to Hirono, the unit was slated for deactivation, but was saved by leadership because of the importance of maintaining Hawaiʻi National Guard presence on the neighbor islands.
During her visit, the senator also stopped by the county’s Kalana O Maui building for lunch with Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa, during which she expressed her condolences for victims of the Lānaʻi plane crash on Feb. 26, 2014.
According to information released by the senator’s office, Hirono also discussed federal initiatives of benefit to Maui that include: the Maui High Performance Computing Center contract bid extension; Maui Veterans Clinic and Multi-Service Veteran Complex design initiative; the expansion of Maui Veterans Cemetery in Makawao; and the Native Hawaiian Scholarship Program at Maui College.
While on Maui, Senator Hirono spoke with Hāliʻimaile Pineapple Company representatives who discussed a request for an Entitlement Purchase from the USDA to maximize harvests, minimize environmental impact, and provide export options.
Under the proposed Entitlement Purchase, Hirono said Hāliʻimaile Pineapple Company would be able to provide food to school lunch programs, charitable institutions and needy families.
The company was formed four yeas ago by a consortium of local investors and previous employees of the Maui Land and Pineapple Company.
Hirono said the company “fills the void left by the two previous companies’ production closures on Maui and provide much-needed jobs for agricultural workers.”