To my Friends in the Veteran Community, Congress, Hawaii, the Media, and elsewhere –

As a few of you know by now, tomorrow will be my last day at the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Starting next week, I will join the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration as a spokesman at the national headquarters.

It has been an unforgettable privilege to spend four years working for America’s troops, veterans, and their families. Reflecting on my short time at the Committee, I am proud of the progress that has been made under the leadership of my boss, Senator and World War II veteran Daniel K. Akaka. If I may mention just three of the many improvements made during his years as Chairman:

· When Senator Akaka assumed the chairmanship in 2007, the Department of Veterans Affairs had suffered years of underfunding. In response, Congress secured historic funding increases for veterans’ health care, then fixed the broken funding process that was responsible for decades of VA hospital appropriations delays.

· When Senator Akaka assumed the chairmanship in 2007, veterans fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan were coming home to a limited GI Bill designed for peacetime. In response, Congress passed the much more generous Post-9/11 GI Bill, which has already been used by hundreds of thousands of troops and veterans. Senator Akaka, who attended college on the original GI Bill, is still working to make additional improvements to this benefit.

· As Chairman, Senator Akaka brought the families of wounded warriors to Congress to hear directly from them on their challenges as caregivers. The result was a landmark law to provide training, certification, and support to the caregivers of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

It was an honor to play a small role as a part of Chairman Akaka’s team, as he labored to help veterans and their families. Thank you for working with me, and please keep in touch.

Effective Friday at the close of business, the Committee’s chief communications staffer will be Gina Drioane. Her email address is Please extend to her the same professionalism and patience you’ve shown me.

It has been a pleasure.


J. Kawika Riley

Communications Director and Legislative Assistant

U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs

Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), Chairman