In the 18th century, Immanuel Kant philosophized about duty, an ethical responsibility every human being must carry.
It was in a discussion about such a topic in a philosophy class that Pierce College Puyallup student Dani Nachampassak expressed another truth about duty. Duty is hard.
She talked about the frustration she was facing in the progression of the H.B.NO. 159 bill, a bill that was drafted to provide tuition waivers for the spouses and dependents of fallen or disabled U.S soldiers in Hawaii.
Nachampassak has been working to introduce and enact H.B.NO. 159 into an official law. The measure was approved in both the lower and upper Hawaiian House.
The purpose of the measure is to support the family members of military personnel who have been disabled or killed while serving their country. Specifically the bill would enable a waver at the University of Hawaii for tuition fees and other fees if the child or spouse of the fallen or disabled soldier is eligible.
Nachampassak became an active supporter of the bill in early 2012 and it’s for her children and those like her who have lost a spouse in combat.
“When you can turn negative energy into positive energy, then it’s rewarding,” explained Nachampassak. “I would go to hell and back for my kids, and I do this for others who may not have had anyone push for them like I do (for my children).”
As the spouse of a fallen soldier and a native to Hawaii, the cause is close to Nachampassak. For this reason she is constant in her efforts that enable the bills continence through the political system.
The bill has passed through the hands of three state representatives, but it was supported by Rep. Mark Takal. It has been successful in passing through the upper and lower courts of the Hawaiian legislature.
With H.B.NO. 159 there are no alternative ways to utilize support given to spouses and dependents.
Unlike services like the G.I bill dependents would not select how those support services are used. Instead they are given direct funding in the form of the tuition waver specific to Hawaiian residents.
Because of the requirement that the spouse or dependent must be a resident of Hawaii Nachampassak planes to return to her native state if the bill is passed. But, for now, she remains in Washington while maintaining contact with those in Hawaii.
Currently the bill is being altered to reflect a change that was a cause for opposition. Formerly the bill made no references to those soldiers who committed suicide during their service. With this exclusion the dependents and spouses of such soldiers would not be eligible for the tuition waver.
This issue was voiced during the initial review of the bill, but the bill is being altered to include such situations.
While there are those pushing for the H.B NO. 159 bill there are also those who oppose it.
The University of Hawaii has argued against about the need for the tuition waver. Lui K. Hokoana, associate vice president for student affairs at the University of Hawaii, wrote when commenting on the H.B. NO. 159 bill that these affected college students already receive educational funding.
“We believe that the Department of Veterans Affairs that provides educational benefits for spouses and dependents of veterans who die or is permanently, and totally disabled is already meeting this needs,” Hokoana wrote.
While the bill still is waiting for final approval, Nachampassak is hopeful and will continue to advocate for those whose loved ones have paid what fellow H.B. NO. 159 supporter Ann Mora called the ultimate sacrifice.
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