Attention A T users. To access the menus on this page please perform the following steps. 1. Please switch auto forms mode to off. 2. Hit enter to expand a main menu option (Health, Benefits, etc). 3. To enter and activate the submenu links, hit the down arrow. You will now be able to tab or arrow up or down through the submenu options to access/activate the submenu links.
eBenefits Access Your VA & DoDo Benefits 24-7

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.

Melissa Kaekel

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Officer: Melissa Kaekel

Melissa Kaekel was appointed to the Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment Officer position in July 2015. She began her career with the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2006 as a vocational rehabilitation counselor in Michigan. She has been stationed in the Detroit RO, out based offices (Saginaw and Lansing), a Vet Center (Saginaw), and VA Medical Centers (Saginaw, Battle Creek, and Ann Arbor). She served as the acting Assistant VRE Officer in Buffalo, NY, in Fall 2014.

Ms Kaekel is a graduate of Michigan State University (MA, Rehabilitation Counseling, and BA, Psychology) and Delta College (Assoc. in Psychology and Assoc. in General Studies). She is a graduate of the VA’s Leadership Enhancement and Development (LEAD) program.

In her current role she 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.

Raymond Chang

Home Loan Guaranty Officer: Raymond Chang

Raymond Chang was appointed to this position in January 2012. The Honolulu RO Home Loan Guaranty program provides assistance to Veterans, Servicemembers, their families and survivors with home purchases, construction, and loan refinancing; the Native American Direct Loan program; and Specially Adapted Housing grants to Veterans who reside in the Honolulu RO service area.

Mr. Chang has more than 26 years with the Honolulu RO. He was hired as a Staff Appraiser in 1986 and was promoted to Senior Appraiser/Special Adapted Housing Agent. Prior to working with VA, he was an Appraiser for Hawaii and for Honolulu city and county.

Mr. Chang graduated from the University of Hawaii in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science degree.