The purpose of the Na Koa Wounded Warrior Canoe Regatta and the Na Koa Events surrounding it is: to honor and support our wounded and their families, and the families of our fallen.
The regatta was launched in 2009 at the Pearl Harbor Marina, with teams representing all services as well as other first responder organizations. The Honolulu Navy League hosted the 2013 event, and then in 2014, the Hawaii Chapter of the Association of the United States Army assumed responsibilities as the host. Along the way, the race has expanded to include considerably more wounded warriors (even wounded warrior teams from neighbor islands, the mainland, and Australia) and Gold Star families. It now includes a Youth Honor Heat for the children of our wounded and of our fallen. A couple of VIP Exhibition Heats have been added to celebrate the participation by Hawaii’s government, military, business, and community senior leadership. And, in the middle of the race, we take a pause for a Gold Star Medallion Presentation, to remember our fallen and the sacrifices of their families: those paddling in the Regatta who have lost immediate family members in service to the country are presented with medallions engraved with the names of their fallen.
Since its beginnings in 2009, the Canoe Regatta has been accompanied by a Hawaii Warrior Job Fair to promote employment opportunities for our veterans. We’ve added two more events:
Originally envisioned as a forum to show our appreciation for our many Sponsors, the Na Koa Wounded Warrior Reception on Thursday evenings prior to the race has become a first class evening in Waikiki. Wounded warriors and their spouses are hosted as our guests, and the warriors are provided Gift Bags. Gold Star family members are also hosted as our guests, and those Gold Star Keiki attending college are provided an Academic Scholarship. This year, our Silent Auction raised more than $7,000 to support AccesSurf Wounded Warrior Day At The Beach program. We introduce the current year’s Na Koa Grand Marshal. And we make an annual presentation of the Daniel K. Inouye Leadership and Community Service Award to those who have promoted our mission of honoring and supporting our wounded and their families, and the families of our fallen. We’ve been thankful for the support of members of our U.S. Congressional delegation, as well as their continuing commitment to serving our veterans and their families. In 2017, we added a featured entertainer, and based on how well that was received, we have plans to do so again going forward.
In 2016, AUSA Family Programs hosted a Warrior and Family Health and Wellness Forum at Schofield Barracks early in the Na Koa Week. With the leadership of the Commander, Schofield Barracks Health Clinic, this program was vastly expanded in 2017. Panels included wounded warriors and spouses, representatives from Veterans Service Organizations serving our veteran community, and Health Care professionals. Look for this to be a continuing cornerstone of our Na Koa Wounded Warrior Week.
Hawaii Chapter of AUSA is thankful for the partnerships and contributions of so many non-profit organizations and government entities that make these respectful and incredibly fun events possible: the Honolulu Pearl Canoe Club, the Outrigger Canoe Club, Wounded Warrior Project, AccesSurf Hawaii (Wounded Warrior Day At The Beach program), the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club (Schofield Barracks), Warriors At Ease, Operation Ward 57, Team Red, White, and Blue, The Mission Continues, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Hawaii Civic Association, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), the Survivor Outreach Center, the VA’s West Oahu Veterans Center, and the Schofield Barracks Health Clinic.
Hawaii Chapter of USA is also thankful for our many Corporate Members and other Na Koa Sponsors who have provided the essential financial support to these events. Wounded Warrior Project has been a reliable Presenting Sponsor, not only providing substantial financial support to AUSA for these events, but also arranging for travel and accommodations for our wounded and their families from neighbor islands. OBXtek out of Alexandria, Va., has been an incredibly generous supporter: with future support focused on Matching donations for Gold Star Keiki Academic Scholarships. We’ve included the logos of other Major Sponsors ($3,000 and more) on all of our promotional collateral, and other sponsorships of $200, $500, and $1,000 are listed in our Program for the Na Koa Wounded Warrior Reception.