Saturday, May 30, 2020
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Tuesday, June 18, 2013
‘Bureaucratic abuse’: Molokai vets wait a decade for center, services
By Malia Zimmerman @ 2:29 PM :: 4674 Views :: Maui County, Development, Military

‘Bureaucratic abuse’: Hawaii vets wait a decade for center, services

Molokai Veterans at new center in Kaunakakai Molokai Veterans at new center in Kaunakakai in 2012

by Malia Zimmerman,, June 18, 2013 

KAUNAKAKAI, MOLOKAI — It’s a dream within reach, one that really may come true for Hawaii’s military veterans.

Larry Helm, 70, a heavy combat Vietnam veteran who served with the 25th infantry based at Schofield Barracks from 1964 to 1966, has headed up the effort to build a center for veterans on the Hawaiian island of Molokai for the past decade.

Representing Molokai Veterans Caring for Veterans, a nonprofit founded in 2002, Helm advocated for the 345 veterans living on Molokai who’d fought in World War II, Vietnam, Korea or the Middle East. Many could not get their claims for medical services processed in a timely manner. Veterans were waiting more than six months to get an appointment for mental health services.

Helm said they needed a central place to get access to physical and mental health services and financial aid — a place they could also meet with fellow veterans for moral support. Helm said he was particularly concerned for those veterans returning from the Middle East to Molokai.

“I emphasize the importance of continuing and improving the mental and physical healthcare they deserve. All service connected claims must be efficiently and hastily processed sooner not later,” Helm told the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs in 2006.

Molokai veterans Molokai veterans at the center in 2012 while it was under construction

The veterans say they could build the center on Wharf Road on the edge of Kaunakakai, Molokai’s main town, in six months for $250,000. The community of 7,400 residents came together. The largest landowner, Molokai Ranch, donated the 17,000-square foot property just steps away from the island’s pier.  Art Parr, a professional architect and Korean War combat veteran, designed the center.

However, during the past decade, government bureaucracy kept getting in the way of their progress.

Citing zoning issues and changes to the center’s plan, the Molokai Planning Commission took three years to grant a Special Management Area permit, which was required for the project to move forward.

After receiving the permit in 2009, the veterans applied for a building permit with County of Maui. Molokai is one of three Hawaiian Islands under Maui County jurisdiction.

A year later, still without a building permit, 15 veterans traveled from Molokai to Maui to demand action from the mayor, the council, and county fire department and water department officials. Over the years, two Maui mayors, the Maui County Council and the governor at the time promised to help the veterans, but did not come through.

Larry Helm Larry Helm

Larry Helm was fondly nicknamed ‘commander’ of the Molokai Veterans Caring for Veterans organization, which was founded in 2002

Maui County officials continued to refused to issue the permit, saying the veterans group did not have a sufficient water pipe to ensure fire protection, and under new rules passed in 2008, must double the size of the water pipe to 8 inches and add a fire hydrant just in front of the center at a cost to them of $38,000.

Helm, a small business owner, noted several businesses nearby were using the smaller pipe, but the county would not budge, saying the new rules did not allow them to make an exception for one group.

Frustrated with the bureaucracy, Molokai Veterans Caring for Veterans filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the County of Maui in September 2010, claiming their constitutional due process and equal protection rights had been violated.

“This is about accountability. The government screwed up and delayed construction. The cost of everything — gas, lumber, shipping — has gone up since we started this project,” Helm said in 2010.

With all the delays, the cost of the project had more than doubled.

James Fosbinder, the veterans’ attorney, at the time called the situation “outrageous” and an extreme case of “government bureaucratic abuse.”

Thanks to a federal court ruling, veterans were granted the permit in 2011, but they paid thousands of dollars in court fees. As a part of the settlement, Maui County had to issue the permit, pay the veterans $200,000 and the mayor was required to issue an apology.

Helm said more than 50 island veterans living when the project was planned died before the center could be build.

Larry Helm fought in Vietnam in the 1960s Larry Helm fought in Vietnam in the 1960s

Larry Helm fought in Vietnam in the 1960s but is now fighting for his life back at home

Today, the veterans’ center is nearly complete.

But Helm is facing another challenge, this one for his own life as he battles liver cancer.

His children have stepped in to raise $100,000 in private donations to complete the center. On June 4, they held a fundraiser that brought in $25,000.

The center still needs commercial kitchen appliances, a sewer system and a parking lot, according to Helm’s daughter Nichol Helm Kahale.

The Helm family and many friends have rallied to get the center completed so Helm can see the veterans’ dream become a reality.

Kahale said her father believed in the importance of speaking out and standing up for the little guy, something he did throughout his life and during the past 10 years on behalf of the veterans. But she said his “true calling” came in the mid 90s to help with care and providing services to the many Molokai veterans.

“He is the ‘commander’ for the Molokai Veterans Caring for Veterans organization and has led it to what it is today. He also worked endlessly and unselfishly towards building the first Veterans Center on Molokai. He took on the arduous task of dealing with the County and the red tape that goes along with it. We hope he will soon see his work come to fruition,” Kahale said.


Reach Malia Zimmerman at


TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

808 State Update AM940


ACA Signups Hawaii



Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Life Advocates

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

American Mothers of Hawaii



Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Audit The Rail

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii 

Blaisdell Memorial Project

Broken Trust 

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

CAFR Hawaii

Castaway Conservative

Children's Alliance Hawaii

Children's Rights Institute

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Citizens for Recall

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

Coffee Break

CSIS Pacific Forum

DAR Hawaii

DVids Hawaii

E Hana Kakou Kelii Akina

E Māua Ola i Moku o Keawe

Farmers For Choice Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Follow the Money Hawaii

Frank in Hawaii

Front Page Magazine

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Get Off Your Butts!

God, Freedom, America

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aganst Assisted Suicide

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crime Victims' Rights

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defending Marriage

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Families for Educational Choice

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Firearm Community

Hawaii Fishermen's Alliance

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii Meth Project

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Right to Life -- Big Island

Hawaii Right to Life -- Oahu

Hawaii Shield Law Coalition

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

Heritage Foundation

HI Coalition Against Legalized Gambling



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Homeless Crisis

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

Horns of Jericho Blog

House Minority Blog

House Republican Caucus YouTube


Hump Day Report

I Vote Hawaii

If Hawaii News

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Iowa Meets Maui

Jackson v Abercrombie

Jihad Watch

July 4 in Hawaii

Kahle v New Hope

Kakaako Cares

Kau TEA Party

Kauai Co GOP

Keep Hawaii's Heroes


Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

Middle East Forum--The Legal Project

Mililani Conservatives for Change

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

Muslim Brotherhood in America

NAMI Hawaii


National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

National Wind Watch

New Zeal

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Northwest Economic Policy Seminar

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

Now What I Really Think

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

ObamaCare Abortion Hawaii


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Pacific Aviation Museum

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons 

Pro-GMO Hawaii


Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Republican Party -- Hawaii State

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

School Choice in Hawaii

SIFE Remington

SIFE W. Oahu 

Sink the Jones Act

Smart About Marijuana--Hawaii

St Marianne Cope

State Budget Solutions Hawaii

State Policy Network

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Harriet Tubman Agenda

The Long War Journal

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

Truth About Trade & Technology - Hawaii

UCC Truths

Union Members Know Your Rights

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

Valor in the Pacific

VAREP Honolulu

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii