Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-2)
Tulsi Gabbard Congressman Hawaii District 2
Tulsi Gabbard Biography from Tulsi For Hawai’i
Biography of Tulsi Gabbard
Dedication to Service
Tulsi learned from a young age the importance of serving others and living aloha. Inspired and motivated by this spirit of aloha, Tulsi took this lesson to heart, and has tried to live her life dedicated to serving the people of Hawai‘i.
From a very young age, Tulsi has shown a passion for public service. Her commitment to serving the community and making a positive impact has influenced every major decision in her life. Her service has included working with at-risk youth, joining the Hawai‘i National Guard and deploying twice to the Middle East, being elected to the Hawai‘i State Legislature and the Honolulu City Council, serving in the U.S. Senate with Senator Daniel K. Akaka, and continuing her ongoing work and leadership on environmental issues and projects.
The Early Years
Tulsi was born in 1981 in Leloaloa, American Samoa, the fourth of five children born to Carol and State Senator Mike Gabbard. At the age of two, the family moved to Hawai‘i, where they first settled in Wahiawa on Royal Palm Drive, where Tulsi’s sister, the family’s youngest, was born.
Learning First-Hand About Small Business
Tulsi learned the challenges and rewards of small business at an early age, helping her parents with two successful family businesses, including “Hawaiian Toffee Treasures.” The long hours, hard work, and uncertainties inherent in getting a small business off the ground gave Tulsi first-hand experience in the business world and prompted her to focus on business in college, graduating in 2010 from Hawai`i Pacific University with a degree in International Business.
The Youngest Person Ever Elected to the Hawaii State Legislature
After her unprecedented election to the Hawai`i State Legislature in ’02, Tulsi represented District 42 in West Oahu. She was an effective, admired, and hard-working legislator who served on the Education, Higher Education, Tourism, and Economic Development committees.
A Truly Remarkable Military Career Highlighted by Self-sacrifice and Bravery
It is very rare that an elected official will voluntarily give up his or her position. Tulsi not only sacrificed her position in the State Legislature, she did so to serve her country and state in uniform in a war zone in Iraq .Her two deployments to the war-torn and dangerous Middle East revealed both Tulsi’s natural inclination to self-less service and her ability to perform well in situations demanding confidence, courage, and the ability to perform well as a member of a team. The same maturity and character that served Tulsi well in the Middle East makes her exceptionally effective in the political world.
Serving in the U.S. Senate with Senator Daniel Akaka
In 2006, Tulsi went to Washington D.C. to serve in the U.S. Senate as legislative aide to Senator Daniel K. Akaka. There, she advised Senator Akaka on issues relating to energy independence, homeland security, the environment, and veteran affairs. Tulsi was proud to serve with Senator Akaka and continues to be inspired by his mentorship and deep love and aloha for the people of Hawai‘i and his commitment to public service.
Protecting Our ‘Aina – Co-founding the Healthy Hawai`i Coalition
At the age of 19, Tulsi co-founded Healthy Hawai‘i Coalition (HHC), a non-profit grassroots organization whose mission is to protect the environment and improve individual and community health. Tulsi was instrumental in developing HHC’s watershed education curriculum, which has been presented to more than 50 public and private schools statewide. Through her Healthy Hawai`i Coalition, Tulsi is active on issues impacting public health and the environment within communities across the state.
Serving on The Honolulu City Council
After returning home from her second deployment to the Middle East in 2009, Tulsi offered to serve on the Honolulu City Council and was elected into office on November 3, 2010. Tulsi currently serves as Chair of the Safety, Economic Development, and Government Affairs committee, as Vice Chair of the Budget committee and is a member of the Zoning and Public Works committee. In her capacity as committee chair, Tulsi has taken the lead on many important issues such as medical waste, Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), dengue fever, and creating new economic opportunities through Honolulu’s first Sister City Summit.
Tulsi is an Ideal Public Servant Who Listens to the People She Serves
Tulsi possesses a maturity and self-confidence that leaves her more intent on listening to what others have to say than in having her own views heard. Her life experiences have made Tulsi the ideal public servant: she is very comfortable with herself and is able to listen to others with genuine empathy and compassion.
Tulsi possesses the rare combination of youth and experience. With a lifetime’s experiences seemingly compressed into three decades, it is easy to see why many people perceive in Tulsi Gabbard a maturity and depth beyond her years.
Tulsi’s Historic Accomplishments
- In 2002, at the age of 21, Tulsi Gabbard became the youngest woman in the entire history of American politics ever elected to a state office.
- Her successful ’02 campaign made Tulsi the youngest person ever elected to the Hawai`i State Legislature.
- Perceiving the terrorist attacks on 9/11 as “defining events for my generation,” Tulsi joined the Hawai`i National Guard in 2003, volunteering to put her life on the line to help protect her country and state.
- Tulsi excelled, in Basic Training, graduating top of her class in B Company. She then completed Advanced Individual Training in Texas in medical logistics and graduated at the top of her class as the Distinguished Honor Graduate.
- On July 4, 2004, when her first term in the State Legislature was coming to a close, Tulsi learned that soldiers of the 29th Brigade Combat Team, with whom she had trained, sacrificed, and bonded, were being deployed to Iraq. To her dismay, Tulsi learned that her unit, the Medical Command, would not be deployed with the rest of the Brigade. Tulsi remembers, “It did not take me long to realize there was no way I could stay home and watch my brothers and sisters in uniform march off to Iraq without me.” True to her nature and loyalty to her fellow soldiers, Tulsi sacrificed an assured re-election to the State Legislature and instead volunteered to deploy to the war zone in the Middle East.
- By sacrificing her re-election to serve with her National Guard Combat Team in Iraq, Tulsi became the first elected official in the State of Hawai`i to step down from public office to voluntarily serve in a war zone.
- Tulsi served for 18 months near Baghdad as the 29th Brigade’s Medical Operations specialist and at the end of that tour of duty was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for her performance in Iraq.
- Back home in 2007, Tulsi attended the Accelerated Officer Candidate School at Ft. McClellan, Alabama and was the first female Distinguished Honor Graduate in the 50-year history of the Academy. This esteemed award recognizes the graduate with the highest marks in leadership, physical fitness, academics, and peer evaluation.
- In 2008, commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, Tulsi deployed to the Middle East for a second tour of duty as a Military Police platoon leader charged with training the Kuwait National Guard’s Counter-Terrorism unit.
- Soon gaining the respect of the Kuwaiti Guards, Tulsi became one of very few women ever allowed to step foot on the Kuwait military base. So impressed with Tulsi were the Kuwaitis that the Counter-Terrorism Unit presented her with an award of appreciation—the first award ever presented to a woman by the Kuwaiti Guards.
- In 2011, Tulsi was commissioned a Captain in Hawai`i’s National Guard and presently serves as Company Commander with 75 soldiers reporting to her.
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