by Jess Clackum
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard represents the 2nd Congressional District of Hawai’i. She is former Vice-Chair of the Democratic National Committee and one of the first female combat veterans to be elected to the United States Congress.
Gabbard was born in American Samoa and moved to Hawaii as a teenager. Her career in politics began in 2002 when she became the youngest person to be elected to the Hawai’i State Legislature and to any state office in the nation.
In 2003, Gabbard enlisted in the Hawai’i National Guard. One year later, she resigned from her post as legislator to deploy with her unit to the Middle East for participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom, during which time she served as a specialist in a field medical unit with the 29th Support Battalion medical company.
Upon returning home from Iraq in 2006, Gabbard served as a legislative aide for Senator Daniel Akaka during which time she assisted with veterans issues, energy, natural resources, and homeland security. She worked closely with the community to build a grassroots network.
Gabbard’s love for public service was influenced by her father who serves in the Hawai’i State Senate. She says, “Whatever you do, do it with the heart of service and making a positive impact on other people’s lives.”
During the time she worked with Senator Akaka, Gabbard graduated from the Fort McClellan Officer Candidate School in Alabama and became the first female distinguished honor graduate in the Academy’s 50-year history. She was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and re-assigned as Military Police Platoon Leader in the 29th Brigade Special Troops Battalion of the Hawai’i National Guard. She left Senator Akaka’s office in 2009 for a voluntary deployment, once again to the Middle East where she led her platoon on a number of security missions.
In 2010, Gabbard was elected to the Honolulu City Council and served on the Zoning and Public Works Committee, Vice Chair of the Budget Committee and Chair of the Safety, Economic Development, Government Affairs committees. She took on a variety of local issues and helped create new economic opportunities for constituents.
In 2015, Gabbard was promoted to Major in the National Guard. She continues her military service to this day.
On the subject of women in the military she believes there should be equality on the front lines. During a 2013 interview with ABC’s This Week, she said,
"As long as we've had a United States military in place, women have been raising their hands to serve our country. If you can pull your weight and if you can do the job, you should be able to do it," she continued. "What we see in the policy change, now that we're seeing starting to be executed, is just a reflection of what women have already been doing in the military."
FlyGirls honors the military and public service of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. She is yet another inspiring woman who has challenged inequality and refused to be told, “No girls allowed.”