Spark M. Matsunaga VA Medical Center

Spark M. Matsunaga VA Medical Center


The Spark M. Matsunaga VA Medical Center is part of the Veterans’ Affairs Pacific Islands Health Care System. Located six miles northwest of central Honolulu, the center offers primary medical care as well as inpatient and outpatient treatment for a wide array of mental and behavioral health disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and addictive behaviors. There are also dedicated services (not substance use-specific) for veterans in the LGBTQ community, women veterans, and veterans experiencing homelessness.


The Spark M. Matsunaga Center aims to provide a full spectrum of care for individuals struggling with mental and behavioral health disorders, beginning with intake, assessment, and diagnosis, and progressing through treatment and aftercare. The goal of treatment is to rehabilitate clients to productive community life, in which they’re able to function at their personal highest level.

The facility itself provided little further information about treatment specifics at the time of this writing, however, an alum polled by indicated that they received medications to help wean them off their drug of choice, plus 24-hour availability of staff. However, they also indicated that the facility’s holistic and exercise offerings could have been improved.

In addition, the Handbook of Military Social Work, notes that across the VA, the most common method of treating addiction is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), along with education and support. The same source notes that most VA medical centers provide short detox programs on both inpatient and outpatient bases, and that outpatient care is generally provided once weekly, in the form of a one- or two-hour group counseling session. The handbook also notes that VA facilities aim to assess veterans seeking addiction treatment for any co-occurring disorders, such as PTSD or depression, and to provide treatment for those disorders along with support in the areas of spirituality, sexual dysfunction, employment, and education. This holistic treatment is designed to remove likely causes of relapse. Finally, the notebook also indicates that many VA medical centers provide intensive outpatient (IOP) programs that require attendance 20–30 hours per week. It’s not clear from the Spark M. Matsunaga Center’s website whether the facility is among those to offer such a program.


The mental health department employs both generalist and specialist teams, though their precise credentials are not provided at the time of this writing. The single alum polled by to date gave the Spark M. Matsunaga Center five out of five stars for its staff’s level of training and experience.


The Spark M. Matsunaga Center is a large medical facility on a substantial VA campus. At the time of this writing, the center provided no further information about its living conditions and amenities, however, the single alum of the substance use disorder program polled by to date gave the center five stars for its cleanliness, accommodations, and meals/nutrition, and four stars for its exercise and leisure offerings.


The single alum polled by to date would strongly recommend treatment at the Spark M. Matsunaga Center. “Once a person decides its time to kick their addiction, this is the right place. There are doctors on call 24hrs a day,” the anonymous reviewer wrote, adding that they were provided with all the medications they needed and face-to-face time with staff. They painted a picture of a very solid program that was perhaps lacking in extracurricular activities, giving the facility five stars for its family participation and ability to treat co-occurring disorders, four stars for its treatment effectiveness, and three stars for its holistic offerings and counseling options. “Exercise areas were not plentiful,” they added.

At the time of this writing, secondary sites yielded no commentary on the Matsunaga Center’s mental health and addiction provisions in particular, and mixed feedback about the hospital as a whole: a 2.9-star average rating based on 14 reviews on Facebook, and a 3.7-star average rating based on 15 reviews on Google.[1] [2] The negative reviewers repeatedly described frustration with the center’s administrative practices, in particular difficulties making appointments and having calls returned. “I wouldn’t even classify this with one star. They are the worst with calling you back in order for you to get seen for ANY type of appointment,” E.G. wrote in a representative review on Google. However, numerous reviewers praised the Spark M. Matsunaga Center, in particular often speaking highly of the center’s doctors and comparing it favorably with other VA medical centers. “I’ve been going to this facility for almost 5 years and my experience here is excellent. I love my doctors, they make sure that I am doing good and receiving the best care I need. Thank you for your service!!!” R.E.G. wrote in a representative review on Facebook.


Veterans with no service-related disabilities or other eligibilities are asked to provide details of their income; based on this information, some clients are required to pay a co-pay for their services. However, the single alum polled by to date indicated that they received treatment free of charge, and gave the facility give out of five stars for its affordability.

In 2014, local news network khon2 reported that Hawaii’s VA Medical Center had received a “scathing audit,” noting that veterans seeking services for the first time had to wait 145 days for an appointment — the longest wait time in the nation, according to the New York Post. “Even before the national news came up over the last few months… we were looking at our processes and how we can improve efficiency, tackle some of the unique challenges we have for wait times that our veterans have for new appointments,” a representative told khon2 at the time. According to USA Today, the Spark M. Matsunaga Center had a two-star rating as of the end of June 2016.


Services provided by Spark M. Matsunaga VA Medical Center

Service Setting

  • Outpatient
  • Intensive Outpatient
  • Outpatient Detox
  • Type of Care

  • Detox
  • Substance Abuse Treatment
  • Treatment Approaches

  • Anger Management
  • Brief Intervention
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Contingency Managementmotivational Incentives
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Martix Model
  • Relapse Prevention
  • Substance Abuse Counseling
  • Trauma-related Counseling
  • Detoxification

  • Alcohol Detoxification
  • Benzodiazepines Detoxification
  • Cocaine Detoxification
  • Opioid Detoxification
  • License/Certification/Accreditation

  • The Joint Commission
  • Payment/Insurance/Funding Accepted

  • Medicare
  • Payment Assistance
  • Genders Accepted

  • Male
  • Female
  • Spark M. Matsunaga VA Medical Center Reviews

  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
  • you had a choice of face-to-face if needed, all your medications were there, the treatment facility was free to US Vets exercise areas were not plentiful Once a person decides its time to kick their addiction, this is the right place. There are doctors on call 24hrs a day.