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Ex-aide for former Hawaii senator tapped for Pentagon

A former congressional staffer for retired U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka has been appointed to a high-level Pentagon position by President Barack Obama.

Debra S. Wada, a St. Andrew's Priory graduate, was appointed as assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs. Her nomination is subject to Senate confirmation.

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said Wada, who is a staff member for the Subcommittee on Military Personnel, has "a thorough understanding of military personnel issues and great relationships on the hill."

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono added that Wada's "ties to Hawaii and her understanding of the military will be beneficial as the Army faces many critical issues related to its force structure comprised of active duty, National Guard, Reserve and civilian components."

Wada has been on the House subcommittee since 1999.She served as the lead staff member for the subcommittee from 2007 to 2010, and briefly served as deputy staff director for the committee in 2011.

In 1999, Wada was a legislative affairs specialist for the National Park Service.

From 1987 to 1990, she served as a legislative assistant for Akaka, acting as the senator's principal aide on national defense, veterans affairs, maritime issues, education, Social Security and welfare.

Wada earned a bachelor's degree from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

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