WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate on Sept. 17 confirmed Debra S. Wada by a voice vote to be the assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs at the U.S. Department of Defense.
Wada has been a professional staff member for the Subcommittee on Military Personnel for the House Armed Services Committee 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 served as a legislative affairs specialist for the National Park Service. She also served as a legislative assistant for Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), acting as his principal aide on national defense, veterans’ affairs, maritime issues, education, Social Security and welfare from 1987 to 1999.
Wada received a B.A. from Drake University.
Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements:
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), CAPAC Chair: “Today’s vote is a testament to Debra’s decades of experience specializing in national defense issues in Congress and an important step towards President Obama’s commitment to diversify the federal workforce. I am confident that Debra will bring great leadership to her work with the Army’s workforce and management programs, and wish her the best in her new role.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii): “I look forward to working with someone who is from and understands Hawaii in this role at the Department of Defense. Debra’s extensive national defense background and D.C experience has made her an integral part of the community and her confirmation reflects those relationships. I believe that she will serve with excellence.”
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii): “I join many in Hawaii in congratulating Debra Wada … With a distinguished career in the House and Senate, Debra understands the unique needs of the Army and our service members. I’m confident she will do a great job at the DoD, and I wish her much success in her new role.”
Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam), CAPAC vice chair: “During her time as a professional staff member for the House Armed Services Committee, Deb provided exceptional guidance and advice to members of Congress, and her counsel was invaluable to implementing public policies that have benefited our servicemembers. I am confident that she will continue to provide exceptional leadership as she assumes her role as the assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs, and I look forward to working with her as she assumes her new position.”
Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), House Armed Services Committee ranking member: “The House Armed Services Committee is losing a part of our institutional knowledge, but our loss is the Army’s gain. Debra has been a key member of the Armed Services staff for years. While she will be hard to replace, the Army has certainly gained a tremendous asset. I wish Debra all the best in her new role, and look forward to continuing to work with her in the future.”
Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.): “This honor is well-deserved and Debra will share her talent, sound judgment and great knowledge of military personnel issues to benefit all of our men and women in uniform. Her leadership on important issues such as protecting military pay and benefits and addressing sexual assault in the military has been invaluable to Congress. The Armed Services Committee will miss her advocacy and effectiveness on behalf of protecting our service members.”
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii): “Debra has worked on defense issues for nearly 25 years, gaining a deep appreciation and understanding of the complicated issues confronting our Defense Department. She continues her commitment to serving our country now through the Department of Defense. As a Honolulu native and former aide to Sen. Daniel Akaka, Debra also has strong Hawaii ties that will serve her well as she works on issues that impact the Asia-Pacific region. I have valued our work together on the House Armed Services Committee, and I wish her the best of luck in her new endeavor.”
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii): “I would like to congratulate Debra Wada on being confirmed to this important position within the Department of Defense. Debra has been a critical asset to all of us on the House Armed Services Committee, and I am confident that her dedication, hard work, and knowledge of defense issues will help her succeed as the new assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs. I thank Debra for her service and wish her the best of luck.”
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland): “I would like to congratulate Assistant Secretary Wada on her confirmation by the Senate. I am confident that Assistant Secretary Wada will continue to be a strong advocate for our brave servicemen and women.”
Rep. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-Northern Mariana Islands): “As a Hawaiian native and long-time aide to Hawaii Sen. Daniel Akaka, Ms. Wada is very familiar with all of the Pacific region. I am sure I speak for our active Army, reservists, and National Guardsmen and women in the Northern Mariana Islands when I say we are grateful to have a person with that experience and understanding working at such a high level in the Department of Defense.”
Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego): “Debra’s confirmation is a personal loss to me since we have worked together for over 10 years. But it is a great gain for our country and our service members. Congratulations.”