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VA Sec. Denis Richard McDonough and U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono pose for a photo with UH Mānoa students and administrators.

U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis Richard McDonough visited the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa campus on October 5, to talk with veterans taking classes and hear about their experiences transitioning from service members to students.

More than 700 undergraduate students and more than 100 graduate students are U.S. veterans at UH Mānoa.

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McDonough is in Hawaiʻi to participate in meetings with local officials. He met with U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono on campus before participating in a roundtable discussion with about a dozen UH students.

“I’m thrilled to be here at the University of Hawaiʻi to hear directly from student veterans and military-connected students about their experience here,” McDonough said. “Some of them will be here relying on programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, so I want to hear directly from them, our customers, about how those programs are working. I see this as an opportunity to get concrete intelligence from our customers about how we can serve them better.”

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Matthew Rinaldi is a UH Mānoa student studying management information systems. Rinaldi served four years in the U.S. Army working as an aviation logistics specialist.

“It’s pretty unprecedented that the secretary of the VA is willing to come here and talk to students,” Rinaldi said. “It really makes our voices heard or listened to, just to get those issues out there, and to actually bring changes to the VA system is important for a lot of veterans.”

UH Mānoa provides assistance through the Office of Veteran Student Services. The team helps veterans transition from military service to student life. There are academic assistance resources as well as a lounge for studying and additional support that can be found at the Queen Liliʻuokalani Center for Student Services.

The Office of Veteran Student Services and UH Foundation manages the Student Veterans Scholarship Fund, which aims to support veteran and military connected students at UH Mānoa. Funds are used for costs associated with attendance (e.g. tuition, books, fees, etc.). For more information, visit this website.