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20 January 2022

From Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Greg Hall, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - Aloha. This word is used as a greeting and also as a farewell. It has any meanings, but Aloha is a word of cultural significance to native Hawaiians to whom it means something greater than love.
At the Aloha Academy, service members attached to Commander, Navy Region Hawaii (CNRH) seek to impart aloha to newly arrived service members and their families who attend the three-day class.

“The Aloha Academy is a welcome aboard area orientation brief that allows participants to hear and see the first-hand experiences of do’s and don’ts from subject matter experts”, said Chief Master-at-Arms Jeremy Harborth, the aloha team leading chief petty officer. “All active-duty military assigned to Oahu, spouses and their adult age children are invited to attend. However, the program is tailored to Navy and Air Force personnel on their first tour to Hawaii.”

Harborth said that the training covers a variety of topics including: island and military history, ocean safety, home and car buying, and best practices for the island.

As part of the history brief, participants in the Aloha Academy delve into the historic nature of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and the integral role it has played throughout its history.

“There is so much rich history at this base, but the Sailors, Airmen and civilians who work here today have jobs to do and we all are very busy,” said Jim Neuman, CNRH historian. “I hope that with my historic overview I give everyone a better sense of the value of the legacy that is all around us.”

Participants are also invited to go on a boat tour of Pearl Harbor and see historic monuments and places of significance. Neuman leads this tour and helps bring history to life.

“I think the sight of the Arizona Memorial and the USS Missouri is one of most powerful iconic visuals in the world,” said Neuman. “We call it ‘The Bookends of World War II’. The war started for the United States on Dec. 7, 1941 with the sinking of the USS Arizona, and ended for the world on Sept. 2, 1945 aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.”
Neuman said that he reminds those who work and serve here have the privilege of seeing Pearl Harbor every day, and are also reminded of the legacy of the Greatest Generation who fought and won World War II.

The Aloha Academy helps service members during a transition to the world’s most remote island archipelago. Each topic presented helps service members to avoid missteps and helps them to achieve their goals.

“I have had participants come back and tell me that they successfully bought a home using skills learned from the “Buyers Brief “or sailors easily registering their vehicles in one day,” said Harborth. “Most recently, a service member who had been feeling down and isolated attended the course. Later, they recognized a facilitator days after their presentation and opened up to them about wanting to commit self-harm.”

Harborth said this showed him that the Aloha Academy was presenting the right topics and that they were developing trust with the service members.

The Aloha Academy continues to work with service members and their families to ensure the topics meet the needs of incoming personnel. Evaluations and surveys help this program to be a useful tool.

“Since 2019, I’ve witnessed a more positive morale from persons that participated in the Aloha Academy,” said Harborth. “A downward trend in military related victim of theft incidents and especially a greater understanding of what a military ambassador to our local community really means. Because ohana means family, and we are all ohana on these Islands.”

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Aloha Academy utilizes a virtual platform to present their classes. Presentations are held on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month and begin at 8 a.m. Honolulu time. Participants can register on the Great Life Hawaii Website.

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