Military part of Hawaii’s Ohana

Teacher Lobbyist and HSTA Vice President, Joan Kamila Lewis, shared why the military is important to students.  Her comments were received by Department of Defenses representatives from the mainland during a listening session held at Leilehua High School in Wahiawa on January 28, 2015.  Teachers showed their support of the military in Hawaii by holding signs before the meeting and providing comment.  Mahalo to teachers for supporting students and our communities!

Listen to what Joan Kamila Lewis said here:

If you have not done so, please sign the online petition in support of our heroes.  Mahalo.

Kendra Ito-Mizota
HSTA Government Relations Specialist

Read HCR 3: Opposing Force Reductions »


(l-r) Teacher and HSTA YHCR Chair, James Au with Representative Marcus Oshiro. Wahiawa is Oshiro’s hometown.

Teachers are part of the community and joined in sign waving before the Department of Defense listening session at Leilehua High.
Mahalo to teachers for leading the way!

Military spouses and dependents attend our schools and work in our schools and hospitals.

Longtime residents, businesses, and community leaders shared why the military is part of Hawaii’s Ohana. 

“Absence of the Army impacts the safer, security, economic and educational welfare of the citizens of Hawaii,” one resident told a packed room

Teachers shared the relationships the military has created in the school community as families, staff, volunteers, and mentors.  The military also supplements many programs and services for Hawaii public school students.

More information on how to support the military in Hawaii:

Army supporters exceed critics

Residents express opinions on plans to transfer thousands of soldiers off Oahu

By William Cole

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jan 29, 2015

CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
“The military is our ohana,” said Karen Leilani Paty, a teacher at Wahiawa Middle School, during the Army community listening session held at Leilehua High School on Wednesday evening.

A standing-room-only crowd of mostly Army supporters but also some detractors turned out Wednesday in Wahiawa for the second of two “listening” sessions as the service weighs big troop cuts around the country, including in Hawaii.

The session started at 6:30 p.m. in the Leilehua High School cafeteria, with many expressing the strategic importance Hawaii represents as a forward U.S. base in the Pacific.

“To draw down the 25th Infantry Division does not make military sense,” said the first speaker, Walter Benavitz, vice president of the Wahiawa Community and Business Association.

“China is flexing its muscles in the Pacific to the chagrin of our allies. ... Meanwhile, we are cutting back our military capability.”

Benavitz, a retired Navy commander who said his family came to Hawaii from the Portuguese Azores in 1883, said the “military is not the culprit here,” with sequestration forcing unwanted cuts.

But Hawaii’s conflicted history, including the 1898 annexation by the United States and later statehood, also was evident.

Lancelot Haili Lincoln, who flew a Hawaii state flag upside down as a sign of distress and said he is a descendant of King Kamehameha 1, pointed to 138,000 anti-annexation signatures collected from 1897 to 1898 “to tell you to get out of our Islands.”

Army supporters outnumbered critics about 10 to 1 in the session in pro-Army Wahiawa, which drew more than 400 people.

A Wahiawa resident said the Army has been integrated into the community a long time, participating in parades and recycling. She said many businesses in Wahiawa would close if the Army downsized significantly.

“I really appreciate all that the Army has done,” she said.

Another Wahiawa resident said claims that affordable housing would be available with Army downsizing are “pie in the sky,” while the reality of military downsizing can be seen in the “empty shell” that is now the shuttered Barbers Point Naval Air Station.

One young woman said she was in favor of downsizing, in part because Oahu has finite resources of food, water, electricity and homes, but also too much traffic congestion.

“So the prospect of having 50,000 fewer people on this island is exciting and a rare opportunity you must realize,” she said.

A man who identified himself only by the name Lopaka, and referred to himself as a Hawaiian national, said he supported downsizing “as a great first step in de-occupying the Hawaiian Islands.”

But Leon C. Hamili said his father was native Hawaiian and a staff sergeant in the Army.

“There are many Hawaiians out here who fully support military service and the Department of Defense being here in Hawaii - and I am one of those,” he said.

Army headquarters is considering a postwar reduction in its active-duty strength from a current 495,000 to 510,000 soldiers to 440,000 or 450,000 - or an even lower 420,000, if sequestration budget cuts remain in effect in fiscal 2016.

The biggest possible cut set out by the Army for Hawaii would be the loss of 16,000 soldiers and civilian workers from Schofield Barracks - the vast majority of soldiers there—and about 3,800 from Fort Shafter.

The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, which organized a “Keep Hawaii’s Heroes” campaign, said the loss of the soldiers, civilians and 30,000 family members would negatively impact Honolulu’s economy by $1.35 billion.

Wahiawa, Waialua, Schofield, Mililani and Kunia would lose 38 percent of their populations and 20,000 jobs would be affected, the chamber said.

The Army is considering downsizing at 30 installations nationwide. Any cuts that occur as a result of the analysis won’t be announced until the summer or fall, the Army said.

The Chamber of Commerce said it exceeded its target of collecting 40,000 signatures in support of the Army in Hawaii.

President and CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara noted in a release Wednesday that the Army is conducting similar listening sessions at other installations around the country where cuts could occur.

“We must continue to show our support to the military. The reality is, cuts will be made. The question is, to what extent,” she said.

“A large, very vocal group in opposition” to the Army presence in Hawaii attended Tuesday’s listening session at the Hale Koa Hotel, Menor-McNamara noted.

“However, we know from a Hawaii sentiment survey conducted in fall 2013, 77 percent of voters support military training exercises and 92 percent believe the military’s presence is important to our economy,” she said.

The Oahu Council for Army Downsizing has said it “does not consider the bulk of the Army’s forces on Oahu to be strategically located since these forces do not have readily available airlift or sea lift.”

The group maintains the Army downsizing provides a “once in a century opportunity” to return to the state Schofield, Wheeler Army Airfield, Makua Valley, Dillingham Military Reservation and Kolekole Pass.


Save our bases and our communities

Please help by attending the following meetings:

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 6:30 p.m. at the Hale Koa Hotel
Wednesday, January 28,2015 6:30 p.m. at Leilehua High School

Share your stories with the Department of Defense.  Tell what the military means to you, your family, your school, and your community.

Defense spending in Hawaii makes up around 18 percent of the state’s economy.  A potential Army realignment initiative could be catastrophic for Hawaii.  Such an option would result in a reduction of approximately 20,000 soldiers and civilians from Fort Shafter and Schofield Barracks along with another 30,000 of their family members.  The communities on the west side of Oahu around Schofield Barracks would lost approximately 30 percent of their population, causing an annual economic loss to the state of about $1.35 billion. 

As teachers, we know that cuts like this could put communities and families at risk.  Army leadership will be in Hawaii on January 27 and January 28, 2015 to hear what communities surrounding military installations have to say. It is critical that community members show up to voice our opinions and share our stories.

Some of the schools that could be impacted include:  Hale Kula Elementary, Helemano Elementary, Iliahi Elementary, Leilehua High, Solomon Elementary, Wahiawa Elementary, Wahiawa Middle, Wheeler Elementary, Wheeler Middle, Kipapa Elementary, Mililani High, Mililani Ike Elementary, Mililani Mauka Elementary, Mililani Middle, Mililani Uka Elementary, and Mililani Waena Elementary.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Teachers on Oahu are encouraged to participate in sign waving scheduled before the Department of Defense meeting at Leilehua High School in Wahiawa.

5:00 p.m.  Meet in the Leilehua High School parking lot for assignments,
signs, and t-shirts.  Volunteers will be shuttled to locations along
California Avenue.
5:15 –
6:15 p.m. Sign Waving

6:15 p.m. Bento dinner

6:30 p.m. Community listening session. 

Michele Lee
Office of Representative Marcus Oshiro

More information is available at:

HSTA President Wil Okabe urges you to support Hawaii’s Heroes

Please help by signing this online petition


Cuts would be ‘crippling,’ Congress members say

By William Cole

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jan 28, 2015

Members of Hawaii’s congressional delegation said it would be a strategic misstep for the Army to significantly downsize here, with the state’s economy also suffering.

“Hawaii is the last place the Army should consider cutting soldiers in light of America’s commitment to re-balance to the Asia-Pacific,” said U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz.

Schatz said that if “resourced correctly, the Army can play a strategic role, with Hawaii as the foundation for its engagement in the region.”

The testimony was submitted by video as the Army conducts two “listening” sessions to hear what residents have to say about a worst-case scenario that would see the Army cut 16,000 soldiers at Schofield Barracks and 3,800 at Fort Shafter.

The removal would mean the loss of $1.35 billion in annual sales, according to the Army.

One listening session was scheduled for Tuesday night at the Hale Koa Hotel. The second is scheduled for 6:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Leilehua High School.

Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter are “critical” not only to Hawaii’s economy, but to the strategic posture of the United States, said U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

“Importantly, the Army’s presence in Hawaii has always been rooted in the significance of Hawaii’s geographic location,” Gabbard said. “Nowhere else in the world is it so clear that our economic and national security interests are deeply impacted by potential threats arising in the Asia-Pacific region.”

A loss of the magnitude the Army is considering would have “crippling impacts to the unique and indispensable assets available to Pacific Command for regional security and stability,” Gabbard said.

“Cuts like these would harm Hawaii’s economy, put many communities around these bases at risk and be out of line with our recently adjusted national defense strategy,” said U.S. Rep. Mark Takai. “The Obama administration has announced the re-balance to the Asia-Pacific, and Hawaii is the perfect place to ensure that our troops are ready to meet the challenges of this arena.”