Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today announced Master Sergeant (Ret.) Clay Park will join her as a guest at the President's State of the Union address tomorrow, February 12, 2013. Park currently serves as director of Papa Ola Lokahi's Native Hawaiian Veterans Project (NHVP), which assists Native Hawaiian veterans with reintegration into civilian life, helps them apply for veterans benefits, and access health care services.
Park served three years on active duty, including a tour as an Army combat medic in Vietnam. He later joined the Hawai"i Army National Guard. While employed as an outreach staff member with a local community service organization, he encountered homeless veterans and other newly discharged veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who were not getting the help they needed. In 2007, Park founded the NHVP and made it his mission to educate, advocate, and link resources to all veterans in Hawai"i who needed assistance.
"Clay Park is an example of a true hometown servant-leader," said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who has served two tours of duty in the Middle East as a member of the Hawai"i Army National Guard. "I am proud that he will be joining me in representing Hawai"i tomorrow night to hear the President speak. More than ever, now is the time to support people like Clay who have dedicated their lives to helping veterans return to civilian life. He truly understands the unique challenges that face our Native Hawaiian veterans and their families as well as the contributions they provide for our communities."
"It is a privilege to join Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard tomorrow night," said Park. "She is our voice, not only for our returning warriors, but for all of Hawai"i. No one can walk away from a war unaffected and that is why it is so important to ease their transition home through peer and community support. I am proud to have Tulsi's continued support for programs like the Native Hawaiian Veterans Project, as we work to serve Hawai"i's heroes."
The NHVP works to help veterans navigate the Veterans Health Administration/Veterans Benefits Administration application process, responding to individual issues and concerns, providing presentations on the Project to retired as well as active military personnel, and advocating for veterans at the local, state and national levels.