U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is currently on the Big Island, assisting in the response to the ongoing Kilauea lava flow.
The Congresswoman was called up for activation this week by the Hawaii Army National Guard and serves as a military police captain.
Gabbard is working in the command cell at Joint Task Force Response in Pahoa, assisting with personnel and logistics.
“There’s a lot that can happen out on the road, especially in these decentralized kinds of missions, so we need to make sure that we have real-time updates on things that are happening both that we can feed to those who we’re providing assistance to, in this case the state civil defense, but also to make sure that the assistance is getting out to those who are on the ground and on the road,” she said.
Gabbard joins approximately 80 other National Guard soldiers and airmen working to patrol the area and assist the Hawaii Police Department with traffic control points.
“I have had a chance to spend some time here in Pahoa, both through the previous hurricanes as well as now through this threat of the lava coming through the community, and I continue to be amazed by the optimism and really the positive attitude that people here have even in the face of not really knowing where their future will be and what it will be like and what their lives will be like once the lava pushes through. So it’s pretty inspiring to be able to talk to and hear from them,” she said.
Gabbard says her experience in the National Guard enables her to better serve as a member of Congress.
“It helps me to be able to push for different policy changes and different things on the federal level but also being able to come and work here on the ground with a background of serving as a member of Congress also provides unique perspective to make sure both sides are working cohesively together,” she said.