Tulsi Gabbard spent her life growing up in beautiful Hawai‘i. As a teenager, she co-founded an environmental non-profit called Healthy Hawai’i Coalition, focused on educating children about protecting Hawaii’s environment.
An advocate for environmental policy, Tulsi was elected to the Hawai‘i State Legislature in 2002 when she was just 21 years old, becoming the youngest person ever elected in the state. A year later, she joined the Hawai‘i Army National Guard to serve Hawai‘i and our country. In 2004, Tulsi volunteered to deploy with her fellow soldiers, becoming the first state official to voluntarily step down from public office to serve in a war zone.
Tulsi served two tours of duty in the Middle East, and she continues her service as a Major in the Army National Guard. Tulsi’s 2005 deployment was a 12-month tour at Logistical Support Area Anaconda in Iraq, where she served in a field medical unit as a specialist with a 29th Support Battalion medical company. She was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal at the end of this tour.
In between her two tours, Tulsi served in the U.S. Senate as a legislative aide to Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI), where she advised him on energy independence, homeland security, the environment, and veteran issues. While working for Senator Akaka in 2007, Tulsi graduated from the Accelerated Officer Candidate School at the Alabama Military Academy, where she was the first woman to finish as the distinguished honor graduate in the Academy’s 50-year history. Tulsi was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and again assigned to the 29th Brigade Special Troops Battalion of the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard—this time to serve as the Military Police Platoon Leader.
Tulsi continued to work for Senator Akaka until 2009 when she again voluntarily deployed with her unit to the Middle East. During this second deployment, in addition to leading her platoon on a wide variety of security missions, she also conducted non-military host-nation visits and served as a primary trainer for the Kuwait National Guard. Tulsi was one of the first women to set foot inside a Kuwait military facility and became the first woman to ever be awarded and honored by the Kuwait National Guard for her work in their training and readiness program.
“King Kamehameha’s legacy is one of unity and servant leadership. He brought people together in the face of great division, uniting the islands of Hawaiʻi for the first time. King Kamehameha was a leader ahead of his time who understood that true unity, in the end, could not be achieved at the tips of spears or by the muzzles of guns, but through dialogue, mutual respect, and working to understand common goals between people. What we learn from leaders like King Kamehameha is that we are at our best when we confront challenges together—when we set aside differences and unite. King Kamehameha was able to unify the islands of Hawaiʻi, not by creating a system that benefited a few, but by empowering many. These values still need to be protected and upheld today so that those who work hard have opportunities to succeed; that education and health care are not just for the privileged; that we serve as caretakers of our land and water for future generations; and that we treat others with aloha, love, and respect.” -Tulsi Gabbard