March 31, 2017

Hirono Statement on Appointment of New VA Pacific Islands Health Care System Director

Hirono Urged VA Secretary Shulkin to Fill Vacancy

Senator Mazie K. Hirono, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, released the following statement on the appointment of Jennifer Gutowski to serve as the Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Pacific Islands Health Care System (VAPIHCS). In her meeting with Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Dr. David Shulkin before his confirmation hearing, Senator Hirono urged him make it a priority to fill the position given VAPIHCS has lacked a permanent director for over a year.

“Hawaii veterans have been waiting over a year for the VA to name a permanent Health System Director,” said Senator Hirono. “I welcome today’s announcement, as Ms. Gutowski will need to hit the ground running to fill the gaps, including improving communication with Hawaii’s veterans community and addressing construction delays for facilities throughout the state. In the time that this critical position was vacant, I requested that the VA Inspector General conduct an inspection of VAPIHCS and asked the region for monthly updates on Hawaii VA projects. I look forward to working with Ms. Gutowski to ensure the health care needs of Hawaii's veterans are met."

In response to a request by Senator Hirono, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of the Inspector General released an inspection report in September 2016 on a six-point plan the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System (VAPIHCS) undertook to improve patient wait times for VA medical services. Click here to read the full report. After meeting with the Maui Veterans Council, Senator Hirono sent a letter to the VA requesting formal updates for the veterans community on the status of VA projects across Hawaii.