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Tulsi Gabbard was born in Leloaloa, American Samoa on April 12, 1981, the fourth of five children. At the age of two, Tulsi and her family settled in Hawaii where as a teenager, she co-founded the Healthy Hawaii Coalition, a non-profit teaching children to take care of themselves and the environment.
“I grew up with the Aloha Spirit. We try to treat everyone with respect. Like family.” –Tulsi Gabbard, US Congresswoman.
An advocate for environmental policy, Tulsi ran for the Hawaii State Legislature in 2002 and became the youngest person ever elected. A year later, Tulsi joined the Hawaii National Guard to serve Hawaii’s citizens and our country.
Tulsi Gabbard spent her life growing up in beautiful Hawaii. 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 Hawaii 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 Hawaii Army National Guard to serve Hawaii 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.
“I think she’s wonderful,” House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer tells me. “She’s been in combat in a leadership role, and she knows how to lead. She deals well with men and women, young and old, Republican and Democrat. She’s got an extraordinary political talent.”
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 Hawaii 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.
In 2010, Tulsi was elected to the Honolulu City Council, serving as Chair of the Safety, Economic Development, and Government Affairs Committee and Vice Chair of the Budget Committee. In 2011, she visited Indonesia as part of a peacekeeping training with the Indonesian Army. Tulsi was elected in 2012 to the United States House of Representatives, serving Hawaii’s 2nd District. She is one of the first two female combat veterans to ever serve in the U.S. Congress, and also its first Hindu member.
Now in her fourth term in Congress, Tulsi brings with her a broad range of real world experience, a storehouse of personal strength, and tested leadership as she represents the people of Hawai’i and our nation in Congress. As she works on the challenges that face our country, she remains focused on bringing her pragmatic approach to working in a collaborative, bipartisan fashion to find real solutions that best serve the people.
Tulsi serves on the House Armed Services Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee where she is a strong advocate for veterans, our service members, and making smart strategic decisions that best secure our nation. Tulsi is working every day to make sure we have a sustainable economy that works for all families, with access to affordable health care, good jobs, and a quality education.
Tulsi Gabbard and Her Father Mike Gabbard
Her father, Mike remembers, “When we look back, there were these qualities like determination and focus. When Tulsi was ten she said, ‘Dad, there’s this Typing Tutor program.’ ” He and his wife, Carol, were homeschooling all five of their children at the time, shaping the curriculum to their interests. They bought the program, and a year later: “She goes, ‘Watch this.’ She’s eleven, typing 120 words a minute.”
In those years, Gabbard says, she had a yearning “to be part of something bigger than myself.” At fifteen, she cofounded with her father a nonprofit environmental organization, Healthy Hawai’i Coalition, and then at 21, when a seat came open in the state legislature, she made a surprise decision to run, despite her almost paralyzing fear of speaking in public. “It never entered my mind that this would require giving speeches,” she says now, laughing. “The first one I gave was at an elementary school, and there were 300 people. I thought I was going to throw up, I was so nervous.”
But she delivered that speech and more; she knocked on doors, turned out inexpensive black-and-white flyers (“I didn’t have any money,” she says. “We made every dollar count”), and won the election—becoming among the youngest women voted to statewide office in U.S. history. That year, 2002, it seemed easy to believe in something called Team Gabbard. Her mother, Carol, was already on the State Board of Education; her father was getting elected to the Honolulu City Council; and Tulsi wasn’t just her district’s new representative but appeared cut from the same cloth as her parents. She shared their vegetarianism, their attraction to Hinduism (which she adopted as a teen), and the hard-line social conservatism that has made her father, in particular, a bugbear to women’s groups and the LGBT community to this day.
Tulsi Gabbard and Abraham Williams
Abraham Williams is a freelance cinematographer in Honolulu. He is a son of Anya Anthony and the stepson of Timothy S. Anthony of Kailua, Hawaii. The groom’s mother is the manager of Ms. Gabbard’s district office in Honolulu. His father teaches social studies and administers the English language learner program at Kalakaua Middle School in Honolulu.
The bride’s first marriage ended in divorce.
She and Mr. Williams had been acquainted for some time, but they didn’t really get to know each other until 2012, “when he was volunteering on the shoots for my campaign ads,” Ms. Gabbard wrote in an email. “About a year and a half later, he asked me out for the first time at a birthday party that a mutual friend of ours threw for me. It was the first time that we had a chance to kick back, relax and really talk on a personal level.
“As we got to know each other, we realized how much we actually had in common. We went for a long walk on our first date, and ended up at a pickup volleyball game with a few friends. Pretty soon, we were going on hikes, going surfing and spending as much time together as we could. Oftentimes that meant an early-morning surf before work. Our friendship and relationship developed over our mutual love for the ocean and surfing.”
Surfing also played a part in the marriage proposal. Ms. Gabbard said:
“I was home from D.C., and the day before Thanksgiving, he mentioned he wanted to go for a sunset surf on the South Shore that night. I was in meetings all day, and by the time we left, the sun was starting to set. We got stuck in traffic at a really long red light, and he was getting so frustrated. I couldn’t understand what the big deal was.
“By the time we got there and were paddling out, the sun was just about to dip under the horizon. He paddled quickly out to the lineup, way ahead of me, and waited as I slowly made my way out. Then he paddled over, pulled out a double-tethered contraption attached to a gold duct-tape-covered flotation device, with a beautiful ring attached, and said, ‘I have a question for you: Will you marry me?’ ”
- Tulsi Gabbard Biography and Profile (Tulsi Gabbard)