Congressional Record Statement of Senator Daniel K. Akaka
Mr. President, I have often said that one of my roles as a Senator is to reflect Hawaii, and show people the meaning of aloha through my own actions. Aloha is not passive, it is not easy, but it can make a difference in people's lives. I am reminded of just how inspiring and effective aloha can be by one of my constituents, William Clay Park. I remember seeing Clay at a Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs hearing on the island of Oahu last year. I was impressed by how he exemplified the spirit of aloha. More recently, Clay was featured in Hawaii Business Magazine for his personal story, and his professional work for Hawaii's veterans. I will ask to have the text of this article in Hawaii Business Magazine printed in the Record following my statement.
Clay was born and raised in Hawaii, rooted in the Native Hawaiian values of his ``ohana,'' or family. As a young man he joined the Army, and served in the Vietnam war. The war took a toll on Clay, but after leaving the Army he joined the National Guard, and started what would become a 30-year career with VA as a dental lab technician.
In 2003, Clay had retired from VA and the National Guard, and that could have been the end of his career of serving his country and his fellow veterans. Instead, he answered a call from a friend and learned that Helping Hands Hawaii, a nonprofit social services organization, was in need of help. Once at Helping Hands Hawaii, he realized that Hawaii veterans needed someone like himself to help them through the bureaucratic maze of VA benefits. They also needed someone with his kind of aloha.
Although he has only been with Helping Hands Hawaii for a few years, Clay's colleagues can already tell scores of stories about the length he will go to in order to reach veterans and help them. Those stories include hiking through Hawaii's dense forests in search of disconnected veterans who have taken to the bush. While many people pass by homeless veterans on their city streets, Clay makes it his responsibility to reach out to them, and get them the help they need.
The greatest price of war are its human costs, and many veterans pay that price long after they have returned from service. Our Nation needs more people like Clay Park, to show veterans that a grateful Nation is not willing to let them be forgotten, and will provide a helping hand when they need one.
Mahalo Clay, for being an example of the resilience and power of aloha.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have the aforementioned article from Hawaii Business Magazine printed in the Record.
June 20, 2007