Meet Veteran, Representative-elect Tulsi Gabbard

BY Cindy Huang  November 12, 2012 at 10:40 AM EDT

After the events of Sept. 11, then-Hawaiian state representative Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii saw the world around her change. And so she enlisted in the Hawaii Army National Guard.

“I felt that I need to do more with my life, to be of service to Hawaii’s citizens and our country in a greater way,” said Gabbard.

As a veteran who has gone through two combat tours in the Middle East, Gabbard says she truly understands the cost of war. She knows what it means to be away from home and loved ones, and to re-adapt to civilian life after service.

“This firsthand understanding is extremely important and relevant now with the challenges and debates facing Congress regarding the military, the budget, foreign policy and caring for our troops, veterans and military families,” said Gabbard.

During her service in Iraq from 2004 to 2005, Gabbard was responsible for maintaining a list of injured Hawaiian soldiers. She says the experience instilled in her a desire to get troops home from Afghanistan as quickly and safely as possible.

Gabbard says she will work to improve efficiency within the Veterans Administration as well as work to reach out to individual communities to ensure that all veterans have access to service they need.

Gabbard, along with Tammy Duckworth, is one of the first female combat veterans to ever serve in Congress. And Gabbard says she and Duckworth are in a unique position to understand veteran issues, both foreign and domestic.

“Women war veterans know very well the high cost of war, not just on lives and limbs, but on the cohesion of our families, the hardships on our children, spouses, and of course the economic costs and so much more,” said Gabbard.