Undoubtedly, a tour of duty in paradise is one of the most coveted assignments for all branches of the armed forces. A recreational heaven, Hawaii has something for everyone to enjoy: beautiful year-round climate, warm ocean waters, sandy beaches, mountains, forests, parks and other facilities.
Keep in mind that anytime you move to a new place there are new behaviors to learn in which each community has its own definitions of what is an acceptable and agreeable way of doing things. Throughout the following sections, you and your family will find helpful information to make your new home a comfortable one.
Once you have received orders to Hawaii, you should take care of all military-related requirements, such as TLA, housing assignments, etc. These requirements vary from one branch of the military to the next and thus are not covered here. For military-specific information related to planning your move, see the section of this guide that deals with your branch. The military-related requirements will be the most important part of your planning, so you will want to be certain to work as closely as possible with your command.
You will need many official documents while in transition. Make sure that your important personal documents are not packed with your belongings, and carry them with you in your carry-on baggage.
It is recommended that you make your hotel reservations well in advance, especially if you are going to arrive during the peak months of December through March or May through August. There are several agencies advertised in this guide that can provide you with TLA information, accommodations guides including hotels and alternative accommodation and other travel advice. The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau provides many of these services as well and can be reached at 808-923-1811. Be sure that your TLA will cover accommodations before making reservations.
Honolulu International Airport, a joint military-civilian airport sharing facilities with Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, is the primary hub for international, domestic and inter-island flights. Located 3 miles from downtown Honolulu and 7 miles from Waikiki, Honolulu International Airport is one of three state airports that accommodate international flights. Twenty-two major airlines have service to the airport, including four direct service domestic airlines and 16 international airlines.
It’s important to note that Honolulu International Airport also features a highly modern and convenient inter-island terminal with convenient, regularly scheduled arrivals and departures between the islands.
The following are visitor information numbers for local area airports:
Your sponsor should meet you at the airport, provide transportation from the airport, check you in to your new command and provide general information about the community prior to your move. Make sure you are in contact with your sponsor as soon as possible before leaving for Hawaii. Your sponsor will be important to you, especially immediately upon arrival. If you are not met by anyone at the airport and require lodging, you should contact your respective command duty officer or go to the USO at the airport. The USO, located at the Honolulu International Airport, is available for use by all military personnel and their family members, reservists on active duty, retirees and Department of Defense civilians on orders. Located between baggage claims E and F, the center is open 8 a.m. to midnight and can be reached at 808-836-3351.
All plants and propagative plant parts require inspection before they are allowed entry into the state of Hawaii. All plants should be free from insects, diseases and sand, soil or earth. The parcels should be clearly labeled “LIVE PLANTS” so the transportation agency can refer them to a plant quarantine inspector for examination if necessary. It is recommended that you time the shipment to arrive during the early part of the week. Applications for permits or certificates may be acquired by writing:U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
International Arrivals Building
Honolulu International Airport
Honolulu, HI 96820
Military check-in requirements differ between the service branches. Be sure to check the specific branch section of this guide for appropriate check-in information.
Direct and indirect impacts of military expenditures are reported to generate $14.7 billion into Hawaii’s economy, creating more than 102,000 jobs for residents that collectively report household incomes around $8.7 billion.
Military expenditures totaling $8.8 billion annually have elevated the defense industry. Military procurement contracts amount to about $2.3 billion annually, making it a prime source of contracting opportunities for hundreds of Hawaii’s small businesses.
• Hawaii attracts increased activity in R&D projects and the presence of the nation’s top prime defense contractors: Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Raytheon and several others.
• Many of Hawaii’s fledgling high-technology businesses receive federal grants through DOD programs such as those awarded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and mentor-protege programs administered by prime defense contractors.
• The Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard is Hawaii’s largest industrial plant, employing more than 4,600 engineers and skilled technicians to service naval surface ships and submarines based in Hawaii and responding to emergency repair calls throughout the Pacific. The naval shipyard also extends use of its facilities to service commercial ships.
• The Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, Kauai is the island’s largest employer outside of government. It is the key R&D site for the nation’s ballistic-missile-defense program and the Navy’s premier anti-submarine warfare testing and training range.
• Since 2002, a 50-year contract to privatize the military family housing program has created billions of dollars in business opportunities for Hawaii’s small businesses contracted to develop, service and manage military residential communities for more than 17,000 homes throughout Oahu by Forest City and Lend Lease Hawaii.
• Hawaii is the only location in the world hosting the headquarters for the largest U.S. combatant command (U.S. Pacific Command), the Pacific component commands for the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard, and combat-ready land, sea and air forces.
• The defense industry has the largest industry-related workforce in Hawaii, providing more than 97,500 jobs with annual household incomes totaling $8.7 billion and representing 16.5 percent of Hawaii’s total workforce.
• The Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai is the world’s largest multidimensional testing and training range. It is the only range in the world where submarines, surface ships, aircraft and space vehicles can train and be tracked simultaneously.
• The Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard is the largest industrial/repair complex and employer in Hawaii, with a workforce of nearly 5,000 civilians and military personnel. The total value of the shipyard is $2.54 billion, with more than $925 million funneling into Hawaii’s economy annually.
• The Coast Guard is the maritime workhorse in our island state, saving hundreds of lives and millions of dollars in property by completing search-and-rescue missions by sea and air annually.
• Hawaii’s military community total nearly 145,900 military members and dependents, including close to 60,000 active-duty, Reserve and National Guard members, more than 66,100 dependents and 19,720 Department of Defense civilians.
• Hawaii’s population includes more than 116,800 veterans, of which nearly 17,000 are military retirees. This represents 11 percent of Hawaii’s population.
For more information, visit www.cochawaii.org/military-impact-in-hawaii.
Upon arrival, you will be considered “malihini,” which is Hawaiian for “visitor” and is applied to newcomers and tourists. Longtime residents and those born in Hawaii are called “Kama’aina,” which means “child of the land.”
It is not an insult to be called malihini, but it is a distinction that allows locals, kama’aina, to help newcomers and visitors become familiar with the lifestyle and culture of Hawaii. So, how do you become a kama’aina? Some people say when you get your first Hawaii driver’s license; eat kimchee with chopsticks; start collecting aloha shirts and only wear ties and formal wear when required by duty; understand directions: “mauka” (toward the mountain), “makai” (toward the ocean), “Diamond Head” and “Ewa” (toward the beach); say “shaved ice” instead of snow cone; understand basic Hawaiian pidgin such as puka, talk story and da kine; know how to make the “shaka” hand sign; or order saimin with Spam instead of chicken noodle soup.
Nobody knows for sure when you become a kama’aina. It just happens after a while. You’ll know when because you’ll feel right at home. Kama’aina status also qualifies you for special discounts, or “kama’aina rates,” in Hawaii with airlines, rental car agencies and getaway weekends at neighbor island resorts. All you have to do is prove you live here — a Hawaii driver’s license will do fine or any identification with your new home address.
If you choose to retain your home state driver’s license, you may still qualify for many of these kama’aina rates with a license or state ID card.
You will find that the vast majority of the people of Hawaii are very warm and appreciative toward their friends and neighbors in the military. All you have to do is begin to live with the aloha spirit. That means caring for others around you and respecting our precious island environment. That’s the responsibility of all kama’ainas. Enjoy Hawaii! Once all your duties on arrival are finished and you have settled in, we hope you will have a bit of leave left to enjoy Hawaii. There is plenty to see and do, so take your free time to “play tourist” and enjoy paradise!
Hawaii is more than a surf-and-sand paradise, as it is rich in U.S. history, provides excellent opportunities to study the environment, and is the bridge that connects the U.S. with our Asia Pacific partners. You may not be used to being surrounded by a majority of ethnic Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Hawaiian, Portuguese, Korean and other people (and mixes thereof). During your tour, you’ll meet a lot of local people who will smile and help you feel comfortable here.
Here are some hints to get acclimated fast and relatively painlessly:
• Taking the first step to show your aloha spirit pays off. If you have an overly abundant avocado or papaya tree in your yard, take a bag to your neighbor.
• If you host a party, invite your neighbors and make it potluck. Most people love to share their favorite dishes.
• Take your shoes or slippers off before entering a house.
• Don’t get upset if you said 5 p.m. and they arrive at 5:45 p.m. “Hawaiian time” is more relaxed.
• Drivers in Hawaii don’t honk their horn; it’s considered rude. And they don’t cut drivers off. Allow others to merge and you’ll usually get a smile and wave.
• However, BE AWARE: some drivers frequently run through red traffic lights.
• Don’t refer to the mainland as “the states” or “the U.S.” Hawaii has been the 50th state since 1959, and local people get offended if you imply this isn’t part of the U.S.A.
• You may not be able to differentiate between a Samoan, Tongan or a Hawaiian when you first arrive. Visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center is a great way to get acquainted with Pacific Island cultures.
• Try the local food, especially if you’re a guest at someone’s home. Some of the local favorites include poi (mashed taro root), laulau (pork wrapped in layers of taro leaves) and kalua pig (similar to Southern American pulled pork).
• Every Friday in Hawaii, many residents wear Hawaiian shirts, muumuus or other Hawaiian-style clothing to work but usually with Hawaiian prints that are more subtle and sophisticated than the more casual Hawaii print clothing.
The previous section mentioned some of the differences that you may experience with a tour in Hawaii. “Culture shock” is a term used to describe the anxiety that is commonly experienced by virtually everyone who attempts to go about his or her daily affairs in the absence of familiar patterns of communication and social interaction.
This most frequently happens when a person visits another culture for an extended period of time. The newcomer’s expectations, as shaped by the hidden dimensions of the home culture, clash with the expectations of his or her hosts, as shaped by the hidden dimensions of their culture. This clash of expectations tends to make the newcomer want to “fight or flee” as a way of coping with the confusion, frustration, isolation and homesickness that characterize most cases of culture shock.
Culture shock does not necessarily occur only following prolonged interpersonal contact with culturally different people. For some people, the absence of familiar food or the need to become accustomed to different sleeping habits can be sufficient to cause culture shock.
There are stages to culture shock. After an initial period of energy, you may find yourself with less energy, more interested in watching television than going out for a walk. You may find yourself thinking more about home and making comparisons between home and Hawaii. You may also feel lonely, away from your family and friends. This is the beginning stage of culture shock.
During the middle phase, you may find you have even less energy, almost none at all. You may want to sleep all the time or eat when you’re not hungry. You may withdraw from people and activities around you. You will begin to glamorize your own home in your thoughts, remembering only the best things about it. You may find yourself getting irritated over minor things, things that never seemed to bother you before. As you think about the comparisons between the two places and their peoples, you might find yourself making value judgments, being critical because people in Hawaii do not do things the way you do them, when that way seems obviously better.
You can decide when to end culture shock. When you come to the realization that you are a visitor spending probably a short time of your life in Hawaii, you will be coming to the end of your culture shock.
Mainland visitors experience culture shock in varying degrees; some hardly notice it at all.
Here are some of the common symptoms of culture shock:
• You may feel isolated and frustrated.
• You may become nervous and excessively tired.
• You may sleep a lot, even after you should have recovered from jet lag.
• You may be excessively homesick. It is normal to miss your home, your family and friends, but if you are thinking of nothing else and writing letters all the time, perhaps even crying a lot, you are probably suffering from culture shock.
• You may feel hostile toward Hawaii as the cause of your discomfort. Minor irritations may make you inordinately angry.
• You may become very dependent on your fellow service members. Of course, these friendships are important and extremely supportive. However, if you make friends exclusively from among your fellow military members and families, you will deny yourself one of the main benefits of your assignment — meeting, interacting with and making new friends from Hawaii.
Almost all visitors must cope with culture shock to some degree. The following suggestions may be helpful:
• Maintain your perspective. Remember that thousands of military members and their families have served in Hawaii.
• Evaluate your expectations. Your reactions to Hawaii will be products both of the way things are and the way you expected them to be. If you determine that your expectations were not completely reasonable, you can do much to reduce the amount of dissatisfaction and unhappiness that you feel.
• Keep an open mind. People in Hawaii may do or say things that people in your state would not do or say. Try to understand that people are acting according to their own set of values, and that these values are born of a culture different from yours.
• Do not withdraw.
• Get involved in activities sponsored by the military and civilian community such as craft fairs, music concerts, sporting events, talent shows, etc.