June 03, 2020

Senator Hirono Presses VA Secretary on Urgency of Completing ALOHA Project During Veterans’ Affairs Committee Budget and Coronavirus Spending Hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, during a Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing, SenatorMazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) pressed Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie on the urgency of completing the Advanced Leeward Outpatient Health Care Access (ALOHA) Project. Secretary Wilkie acknowledged that the ALOHA Project has been beset by unnecessary bureaucratic delays, and pledged to work with the Committee to prevent red tape from slowing construction on other VA health care facilities. 

Upon its completion, the ALOHA Project will nearly double the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System’s capacity, boosting access for veterans living in Leeward Oahu and those traveling from the neighbor islands. It will also reduce travel to the clinic co-located at Tripler Army Medical Center.

From Senator Hirono’s remarks:

“For years, I have brought up the Advanced Leeward Outpatient Healthcare Access (ALOHA) Project in hearings and meetings with VA leadership. The ALOHA Project was scheduled to be completed by Fiscal Year 2020, but has encountered multiple delays. Earlier this year, VA said that a lease award was expected by mid-May, but in the recent weeks, we have learned that has been delayed due to COVID-19. Now, a lease award is not expected until mid-August, and the project is not expected to be completed until the spring of 2023.

“You can see why the veterans are very concerned that this project keeps being delayed. Can you explain to me what exactly is causing yet another delay, and how VA is working to address it, and could you provide a detailed timeline for the ALOHA Project, so I can let the veterans in Hawaii know when they can expect this facility to be built?”

Senator Hirono has advocated for the ALOHA Project’s completion for years, following former Senator Daniel K. Akaka’s leadership. Last March, the Senator pressed Secretary Wilkie on a timeline for its completion, citing a lack of progress on it and other VA health care projects. In January 2018, Senator Hirono announced that the ALOHA Project cleared a key hurdle in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, following a request from the Senator and the Hawaii Congressional Delegation in March 2017. Senator Hirono also secured $15.8 million for the project’s authorization in the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act, which was signed into law in 2014.