Tulsi Gabbard was born in Leloaloa, American Samoa. 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. In 2004, Tulsi voluntarily deployed to Iraq with her fellow Soldiers of the 29th Brigade eventually serving two tours of combat duty in the Middle East. Tulsi was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal during Operation Iraqi Freedom, was the first female Distinguished Honor Graduate at Fort McClellan's Officer Candidate School, and was the first woman to ever receive an award of appreciation from the Kuwaiti military on her second overseas tour. Tulsi is one of the first two female combat veterans and the first Hindu to ever serve as a member of the U.S. Congress.