Civil Beat is pleased to announce that a Report for America corps member will be joining our staff in June to cover veterans and military issues in Hawaii.

Kevin Knodell, a freelance reporter from Washington state who has reported on defense issues overseas and on the mainland, is eager to focus his reporting on the large defense presence in Hawaii, its impact throughout the islands and the geopolitical role played by forces here.

“Some people in my generation can honestly say ‘I’ve never met anyone in the military,’” said Kevin, who is 31. “When it comes to veterans and the military, there really is an unfortunate knowledge gap. It goes both ways of the civilian-military divide. The only cure for that is good information.”

Report For America corps member Kevin Knodell will cover military and veterans affairs in Hawaii. 

Additionally, our current RFA corps member, public health reporter Eleni Gill, a Honolulu native, will be staying on with Civil Beat for a second year. Many readers have become increasingly familiar with Eleni’s work amid her nearly round-the-clock reporting for the last several weeks on the coronavirus crisis.

Kevin and Eleni are among 225 journalists selected this week for Report for America’s 2020 class. They’ll be working at 160 news outlets around the country.

Civil Beat is particularly proud to continue its partnership with the groundbreaking work of RFA because of its focus on the critical challenge of revitalizing local news coverage across the country.

Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities. It is an initiative of the nonprofit news organization, The GroundTruth Project.

Eleni Gill.
Health care reporter Eleni Gill will continue for another year as an RFA corps member. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

RFA’s dramatic expansion for 2020 comes at a time “when local journalism is already reeling from years of newsroom cuts and unforeseen challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a news release announcing the new corps members.

“It’s now crystal clear that the need for trustworthy, accurate, and local information can be a matter of life and death,” said Steven Waldman, co-founder and president. “This surge of reporters should help meet this moment.”

Kevin grew up in Oregon and graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. He’s been embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, reported from the field in Syria and produced a podcast called “War College.” His articles have appeared in the Daily Beast, Playboy, Foreign Policy and Crosscut in Seattle.

With Kevin’s addition to the staff, Civil Beat will provide our readers substantial coverage for the first time of Hawaii’s large military community, which has an enormous economic and social footprint, and its population of veterans, one of the highest per capita in the country.

He’ll also be writing stories about the myriad ways the state’s long military presence intersects with other issues from housing costs to the environment to Native Hawaiian land rights.

RFA provides funding for roughly half the salaries of Kevin and Eleni.

Civil Beat raises the additional money for our RFA positions from local funders. Eleni’s health care reporting position receives support from Kaiser Permanentethe Atherton Family Foundationthe George Mason Fund of the Hawaii Community Foundation and Papa Ola Lokahi.

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