Tulsi Gabbard is one of the first two female combat veterans to serve as a member of the US Congress. An advocate for environmental policy, Gabbard first ran for the Hawaii state legislature in 2002, where at 21 she became the youngest person ever to serve in that body.
In 2003, she joined the Hawaii National Guard, and a year later, she voluntarily deployed to Iraq, eventually serving two tours of combat duty in the Middle East. She was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and she continues to serve as a Captain in the Hawaii National Guard's 29th Brigade Combat Team. Between her two tours of duty, Gabbard worked in the US Senate as a legislative aide to Senator Daniel Akaka, where she advised on energy independence, homeland security, the environment, and veterans’ affairs. In 2010, she was elected to the Honolulu City Council, where she served as Chair of the Safety, Economic Development, and Government Affairs committee and Vice Chair of the Budget committee. In 2012, Gabbard was elected to the US Congress, where she has emerged as a leader on veterans’ issues and a voice for a younger generation of solutions-oriented political leaders. The first piece of legislation she introduced in the House, the Helping Heroes Fly Act, which streamlines airport security screenings for injured and disabled veterans, was enacted with bipartisan support.