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Honolulu Regional Benefit Office

Meet Our Leadership Team

 

Karen Gooden

Director: Karen Gooden

Karen Gooden was appointed Director of the Honolulu Regional Office in March 2015. As Director, she is responsible for administering a range of VA benefits to more than 129,900 Veterans and their beneficiaries in highly rural and remote locations throughout Hawaii and the South Pacific region, including Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan, Tinian and Rota). The office provides outreach to the Insular Islands of the Republic of Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia encompassing a geographic area of 4.6 million miles. Prior to this appointment, Ms. Gooden was the Assistant Director of the Boston VA Regional Office. She also assisted the Director in the management of the Manchester and White River Junction VA Regional Offices. Ms. Gooden is a U. S. Army Veteran.


Nessie Shores

Veterans Service Center Manager: Nessie Shores

Nessie Shores was assigned as the Veterans Service Manager of the Honolulu Regional Office in May 2016. In this position, she is responsible for the day to day oversight of claims processing for disability compensation and ancillary benefits to more than 129,900 Veterans and beneficiaries in highly rural and remote locations throughout Hawaii and the South Pacific region. Prior to this position she was a Coach in the Honolulu Regional office.

Ms. Shores began her VA career in 2004 as a Claims Examiner in the Veterans Health Administration at the Spark Matsunaga Medical Center Fee Based Care where she processed claims for medical care purchased and provided by the Department of Defense.

She then joined the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Compensation and Pension Service in 2007 as a Veterans Service Representative at the Honolulu Regional Office. She assumed roles of more responsibility such as Rating Veteran Service Representative, Acting Coach, Coach, and Acting VSCM. As a Coach, Ms. Shores supervised teams such as Appeals, Quality Review, Special Operations, and Rating.


Debra Lowery

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Officer: Debra Lowery

Ms. Lowery obtained her Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from New York University in 1995. Shortly after, she obtained her credentials as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. She started her career with the Department of Veterans Affairs in the NY Regional Office in 2004 as a Rehabilitation Counselor. In 2009, she relocated to Atlanta Georgia where she also worked as a Rehabilitation Counselor. In 2014, Ms. Lowery was promoted to Asst. VR&E Officer for the Atlanta Regional Office but was out-based in Savannah Georgia. She maintained that position for approximately 4 years. In May 2018, Ms. Lowery accepted the VR&E Officer position in the Honolulu Regional Office.

In her current role, Ms Lowery is responsible for the oversight of Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors providing services for Servicemembers participating in the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) program and Veterans and their families participating in the VetSuccess on Campus (VSOC) program. The IDES program assists transitioning Servicemembers with vocational rehabilitation services during their transition from active duty military, and the VSOC program provides Servicemembers, Veterans, and their families with support in pursuit of education. She also oversees Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors providing services for Veterans with service-connected disabilities who are returning to work.