Judiciary Hosts Hawaii’s First Veterans Treatment Court Conference

The Big Island Veterans Treatment Court of the Third Circuit hosted the state’s first Big Island Veterans Treatment Court Conference on August 11, 2016, for professionals who work with veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, and substance use disorders (SUDs).

(Left to right) Dr. Brian L. Meyer, PTSD-SUD Specialist at H.H. McGuire VA Medical Center; Third Circuit Judge Greg K. Nakamura; Third Circuit Chief Judge and Presiding Judge of the Veterans Treatment Court Ronald Ibarra; Scott Swain, Justice for Vets Division Director; David Pelletier, J.D., Project Director for the Veterans Treatment Court Planning Initiative at the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP); and Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, Hawaii Supreme Court at the Big Island Veterans Treatment Court Conference held today at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel.

(Left to right) Dr. Brian L. Meyer, PTSD-SUD Specialist at H.H. McGuire VA Medical Center; Third Circuit Judge Greg K. Nakamura; Third Circuit Chief Judge and Presiding Judge of the Veterans Treatment Court Ronald Ibarra; Scott Swain, Justice for Vets Division Director; David Pelletier, J.D., Project Director for the Veterans Treatment Court Planning Initiative at the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP); and Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, Hawaii Supreme Court at the Big Island Veterans Treatment Court Conference held today at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel.

Judges, law enforcement officials, probation officers, attorneys, researchers, and substance abuse treatment providers came to learn about the latest evidence-based best practices for effectively dealing with veterans struggling to readjust to life outside the military.

Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrably higher rates of co-occurring PTSD, traumatic brain injury, pain, and SUDs, than the general population.  , Often, these issues are compounded by family strife, unemployment, and homelessness, ultimately leading to incarceration.

The conference focused, in part, on the unique work that Hawaii’s Big Island and Oahu Veterans Treatment Courts, and similar programs across the country, are doing to help restore veterans’ health, families and futures, while also saving taxpayer dollars.

A 2016 study published by the Community Mental Health Journal found that veterans who participate in veterans treatment courts experience significant improvement in housing, relationships and social connection, overall functioning and well-being, depression, PTSD, substance abuse, and mental and emotional health.

At the conference, national and local speakers provided information and training on the latest findings in effectively working with veterans and improving the success of Veterans Treatment Court programs.

Sixteen veterans have enrolled in the Hilo and Kona Veterans Treatment Courts since the program’s inception in November 2014.  The Veterans Treatment Court program continues to grow, on both Oahu and the Big Island, as an increasing number of attorneys submit applications for their clients to participate in the program.

“I’d like to thank the Friends of Big Island Drug Court, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, the Big Island Drug and Veteran’s Courts, the Hawaii State Bar Association, Hawaii County Bar Association, West Hawaii Bar Association, and the County of Hawaii Office of the Prosecuting Attorney for their sponsorship of our first Big Island Veterans Treatment Court Conference,” said Chief Judge of the Third Circuit and Presiding Judge of the Veterans Treatment Court, Ronald Ibarra.  “Their support is mission-critical in our efforts to help veterans and their families recover and regain their chance at a successful future.”

For more information on the Hawaii State Judiciary’s Veterans Treatment Court program,visit:  www.courts.state.hi.us/special_projects/veterans_court

Hawaii Rush Soccer Team Wins National Championship… Again!

Winning a National Cup Finals championship means you’ve joined elite company.

Hawaii RushAbout 1,000 teams compete over the course of National Cup Regionals and the Finals, and that doesn’t even incorporate total state cup participation, which exceeds that.

With only 20 teams capturing national titles last month at the National Cup XV Finals, mathematics alone proves that winning your last game of US Club Soccer’s cup-based national championship series is a rare feat. The Hawaii Rush ’02 girls team one-upped those odds by winning the U-13 Premier Group championship last year and then winning the U-14 Premier Group title this year. This year, that feat was only accomplished by Hawaii Rush ‘02.

“I feel that this championship impacts all of these players for a lifetime,” Hawaii Rush coach Brent Murakami said. “It may not just be holding on to the trophy at the end of the tournament, but all the work that was put in to achieve that success. These girls needed to sacrifice a lot for this championship: time spent on the field instead of with friends, waking up early, sleeping early, being pushed physically and mentally.

“I think that the determination to overcome all those frustrations and sacrifices will take them a long way in life. It’s important to understand that getting to the top does not come easy. Unfortunately, only one team can win and that teaches the players to be proud, but to be humble. I believe that had been displayed by them throughout the entire tournament.”

The ultimate results may have been the same at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind. as it was at Aurora Sports Park in Aurora, Colo., but Murakami said the similarities stop there.

National Cup XV Finals in Aurora, Colo.:

  • Hawaii Rush ’02 5, GPS ME Phoenix Elite 1
  • Hawaii Rush ’02 4, FC Stars ’02 NH United 0
  • Hawaii Rush ’02 1, NEFC Premier South 0
  • Hawaii Rush ’02 2, NEFC Premier South 0

National Cup XIV Finals in Westfield, Ind.:

  • Hawaii Rush ’02 2, Washington East SC ’01 2
  • Hawaii Rush ’02 1, Cincinnati United Premier Black 01/02 1
  • Hawaii Rush ’02 2, California Odyssey ’01 1
  • Hawaii Rush ’02 3, Cincinnati United Premier Black 01/02 0

“Last year was our first opportunity for these girls to make a US Club Soccer national appearance,” he said. “It was tough last year in the sense that it was their first. Everything was new to them. It was the first time playing beyond the West Coast for most of the girls.”

This year, Murakami admits that the girls weren’t playing to their potential heading into the tournament after a “roller coaster spring season.” But, the momentum started changing through good training sessions.

“This tournament was different, because we were now the defending champions and we were no longer flying under the radar. Although we had never played any of the teams in our pool before, they all knew that we were the defending champions. There was motivation for them.”

With any national championship event, scouting is difficult. The team and even the coaching staff weren’t familiar with the teams they faced in pool play (GPS ME Phoenix Elite, FC Stars NH United and NEFC Premier South). But, Hawaii Rush managed to score first in all of its games – and not only score first, but do it within the first five minutes of each game.

As the girls enjoy their back-to-back championship notoriety, Murakami insists they’ve not entertained the idea of a three-peat just yet. “We are just so happy for the girls to win this year,” he said, adding they welcome the challenge of being moved to the Super Group (most competitive) next year if they qualify to the National Cup XVI Finals. “To end the year playing the quality of soccer they played in the tournament was awesome.”

Hawaii State Reaches Agreement with United Public Workers Union to Proceed with Maui Hospitals Transition

Gov. David Ige and Dayton Nakanelua, state director of the United Public Workers (UPW), announced they have signed a settlement agreement that will resolve UPW’s lawsuit and class grievance against the state.

Click to read agreement

Click to read agreement

The union had sought to ensure that the collective bargaining agreement with the state was honored during the transition from state control to Maui Health System, a Kaiser Foundation Hospitals LLC (Kaiser). The transition can now move forward.

“I am pleased that we were able to work with UPW to ensure that state workers at the Maui healthcare facilities are treated fairly during the transition process. These employees are providing top-notch care for the community, and this agreement acknowledges their dedication to their patients. The settlement provides certainty to the people of Maui County that they will continue to have access to high quality health care,” said Gov. Ige.

“With this agreement, the governor has recognized and addressed the concerns of our members. He is honoring the process and the existing collective bargaining agreement,” said Mr. Nakanelua.

The state and UPW will jointly ask the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to lift its injunction and dismiss UPW’s lawsuit. Some key points of the agreement include:

  • The Maui Region hospitals will be transferred from Hawai‘i Health System Corporation management to Kaiser not earlier than November 6, 2016.
  • The Maui Region hospitals will be operated and managed exclusively by Kaiser.
  • UPW bargaining unit employees will work under Kaiser’s supervision and direction and still be covered by UPW collective bargaining agreements until those agreements expire on June 30, 2017.
  • Kaiser will offer to hire UPW employees for a period of six months starting July 1, 2017.

This agreement clears the way for the transition to Kaiser to proceed and residents of Maui County can feel secure that they will continue to have access to healthcare. While the transfer of the hospital management has been secured, some related issues remain. In particular, the Hawai‘i Government Employees’ Association (HGEA) did not join the UPW lawsuit. Instead, the union requested severance and retirement benefits for its employees through SB 2077, which was passed during the 2016 regular session. Gov. Ige vetoed the measure based upon legal and fiscal concerns and offered a compromise measure, but the legislature subsequently overrode his veto. This resulted in Act 1, Special Session 2016.

On Aug. 9, 2016, the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) filed a lawsuit against the state and Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation asserting that Act 1 will jeopardize the ERS’ federal tax-exempt status. This lawsuit will not affect the settlement agreement signed today. HGEA employees are not included in its provisions. HGEA’s severance and retirement benefits will depend on the outcome of the litigation, and/or the union could work with the state to reach an agreement in accordance with the collective bargaining law.

“I pledged to work out an agreement with UPW because we need to honor our commitments to the Maui Region hospital employees. I am hopeful that we can reach a similar agreement for employees in those facilities who are represented by HGEA,” said Ige.

Hilo’s Mo‘oheau Bandstand Closing for Renovations

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation announces it will close Hilo’s Mo‘oheau Bandstand temporarily starting Monday, August 15, so the structure may undergo extensive renovation.

A vigil for the victims in the Orlando night club shooting was held recently at Mo‘oheau Bandstand.

A vigil for the victims in the Orlando night club shooting was held recently at Mo‘oheau Bandstand.

The closure is expected to last through November 2016 to allow for structural and architectural repairs as well as painting, lighting and electrical upgrades.

To protect park patrons from construction hazards, barricades will be erected to restrict access to the bandstand throughout the project.

During construction, monthly Hawai‘i County Band concerts will be moved to the Aupuni Center Conference Room located at 101 Pauahi Street. The noontime performances will remain as scheduled on the following Saturdays: September 10; October 1; November 12; and December 3.

The Department of Parks and Recreation apologizes for any inconvenience the temporary closure may cause and thanks park patrons for their understanding while it works to improve Mo‘oheau Bandstand.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 961-8311 or jarmstrong@hawaiicounty.gov.