HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - 250 active-duty soldiers were out in full-force Tuesday serving the Veteran community in honor of Pacific Army Week. The service members spent their Kamehameha Day giving back with several outreach projects designed to connect them with veterans in need like one held at Kapiolani Park.
U.S. Army Pacific soldiers partnered up with Waikiki Health's mobile med unit to help veterans get health screenings and establish their Veterans Affairs benefits.
"It makes a difference that they're willing to help the military veterans," said Irwin Sang, a homeless Veteran.
Sergeant First Class Maurice Smith knows first-hand what it's like to end up on the streets. He was homeless as a child for about two years.
"I know it can happen to anyone. It's disappointing to see anyone homeless, not just a Veteran. But it is pretty heartbreaking after they've given so much to have so little given back to them in return. We're out here to help make a difference and help change that," said SFC Smith.
More than 40 veterans were served at just Kapiolani Park, but outreach events were hosted across O'ahu today. Soldiers tackled graffiti clean-up at the vet center in Foster Village and even did yard work for home bound veterans.
"I'm proud of the Army for doing it. You know, they don't have to and it's a great service," said David Foster, a homeless Veteran. "A lot of the veterans deserve help and any bit is appreciated."
Today's efforts are part of the "Soldier for Life" campaign.
"I think it's so important, because at least for the military community, it's soldier for life. If you can remember – once a soldier, always a soldier, and they sacrificed for our freedoms and now we, in return, should help them out," explained Master Sgt. William Crawford, who works out of U.S. Army Pacific Command Headquarters.
Soldiers also cleaned up gravesites at the Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe and worked on repairs at one of the VA facilities at Tripler Army Medical Center.
"If everybody would come together to try to help, I think maybe, it would improve like what we're seeing today," said Niesha Ruffin, a U.S. Army Pacific soldier.