Categorized | Government, News

Updates from Rep. Gabbard (Feb. 26-March 10)


The House Committee on Foreign Affairs during a legislative markup has approved without objection North Korean sanctions co-sponsored by Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02).

The North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act of 2015 (H.R. 757) requires the President to impose targeted sanctions on people or entities in other countries that contribute directly or indirectly to weapons development, arms trafficking, money laundering, and human rights abuses in North Korea.

“North Korean belligerence has grown instead of waned since last year’s discussion of ramping up sanctions against this dictatorial regime,” said Gabbard, who traveled to the Korean Peninsula last year with a congressional delegation. “North Korea’s cyberattack in November against Sony Pictures and constant war-mongering from Pyongyang demonstrate the need to sanction people or nations that support North Korea’s dangerous nuclear ambitions.”

H.R. 757 also directs the U.S. Treasury Department to determine whether to restrict access to the U.S. financial system for North Korean banks and third party enablers. Sanctions can be waived for humanitarian aid and when a waiver supports U.S. national interests.

“In my travels to the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia, I spoke with our partners and heard firsthand their concerns about North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats and the instability this wreaks on the region,” Gabbard continued. “We cannot allow this nation to threaten people throughout the Asia-Pacific and the U.S., including Hawaii. My constituents should not live under the fear of being in the crosshairs.”



Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) joined Hawaii Air National Guard units to recognize Airmen who were selected for the annual Hawaii Air National Guard (HIANG) “Launa’Ole” awards at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

HIANG holds its annual “Launa’Ole” awards ceremony for outstanding achievement over the past year.

“The Airmen recognized here today truly epitomize the meaning of launa’ole—excellence—in their dedication and service to our country,” said Gabbard. “Their hard work and selfless service are on display each day. In their different and varied roles, each of these individuals are the heart and strength of our National Guard, and stand ready to serve, ensuring our nation is prepared. Our pride and deep thanks go to these Airmen for their commitment to service, and always rising to the occasion.”

The awards presented are listed below.

Full-time Airman of the Year

During this period, Airman Mariah Akau singlehandedly processed over one thousand Air Force Form 2096 transactions, which allowed commanders to develop and manage their forces. Airman Akau was a key contributor to the reenlistment and extension program success by processing over 400 applications, with zero errors. In her spare time she helped raise $1,400 dollars for the Susan G. Komen foundation and the American Cancer Society.

Traditional Airman of the Year

During this period, Airman Ken Hayashi deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and provided vital intelligence for the Secretary of Defense No. 1 high-value individual missions. Additionally, Airman Hayashi flew 92 combat missions totaling 452 hours and geographically located 170 actionable targets for ground and helicopter assaults which significantly aided the Joint Special Operations Task Force, Combat Operations team. Airman Hayashi’s tenacity and time management allows time to organize support for the Lanakila Meals on Wheels program, delivering meals to Hawaii’s elderly on Thanksgiving Day.

Full-time Noncommissioned Officer of the Year

During this period, Sergeant Blesmay Balmonte successfully led the TFI Operations in the Hawaiian Raptors uniting the 199th Fighter Squadron and the 19th Fighter Squadron in all operational areas including Ready Aircrew Program, unit flying hours, and aviation resource management. A safe keeper of national assets, twice in FY14 successfully HUREVAC’d the Hawaiian Raptors, streamlining critical information, flight orders and authorizations at a moment’s notice, resulting in zero errors and safe redeployment. Sergeant Balmonte tracked over 2,500 flight/ground training items for 34 pilots, including the 154th Wing and 154 Operations Group, enabling HHQ tasking, squadron combat readiness and homeland defense capability. She expertly managed ANG and RegAF FHP auditing over 2,100 sorties and 3,100 flying hours with 100% accuracy. Additionally, she spear-headed flawless operations during first ever F-22 deployment to Malaysia in support of COPE TAUFAN, coordinating flight plans with RMAF and support of MAANG ARMS, earning an award as 154 Wing Outstanding performer. During her spare time, Sergeant Balmonte volunteers as assistant Sunday school instructor for children at Grace Bible Church Pearlside.

Traditional Noncommissioned Officer of the Year

During this period, Sergeant Amy Gerard provided direct optometry services to over 2,500 Airman in the Hawaii Air National Guard to include the challenging 450 annual flying class I, II and III examinations. Her attention to detail helped organize and streamline the section, which ensured efficient and precise processes, such as critical vision assessments and eye pressure readings. Additionally, Sergeant Gerard is a Joint Training Systems Specialist for Headquarters Special Operations Command, Pacific and is responsible for coordinating, resourcing, tracking and reporting all education and training for the J1 personnel.

Full-time Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year

During this period, Sergeant Richard Pacheco superbly managed C2 network services in support of Operation Puna Lava Flow ensuring 24/7 security presence in East-Hawaii, adapting to civil emergency converting exercise mission to real-world in 3 days vice 90 day norm resulting in TF TOC operational. He spearheaded a $250,000 network infrastructure modernization project multiplying LAN access capabilities five-fold. His innovated technical solutions for the first COMSEC OTAR set the standard, enabling successful F-22 sorties during Exercise COPE TAUFAN. His unequalled performance and execution to 250 communication customers earned him COPE TAUFAN Outstanding Performer accolades. During his spare time, Sergeant Pacheco restored unmanaged Veteran Administration network connecting essential work equipment thus enhancing the Veteran Administration office work environment. He also upgraded the Hawaii Youth Challenge IT infrastructure and installed router upgrades.

Traditional Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year

During this period, Sergeant Christopher Hox anchored the U.S. Pacific Command’s 8-member Aeromedical Evacuation operations team. There, he completed 116 aeromedical evacuation missions, totaling a $13 million dollar flight program, which saved the lives of 343 patients all over the pacific area of responsibility. Additionally, he engineered the Joint service aero medical laydown, executing 57 unit type codes, accounting for $15 million dollars in assets and 150 personnel sourced for theater and wartime evacuation plans. Sergeant Hox also synchronized the Pacific Air Forces aero medical evacuation channel routing systems, these initiatives sliced 13 flight hours per week and $16 million in savings.

First Sergeant of the Year

During this period, Sergeant Jeffrey Romualdo managed numerous complicated issues revolving around the health and welfare of the enlisted and professional medical members of the 154th Wing and 109th Air Operations Group. Furthermore, Sergeant Romualdo deployed to Alaska in support of exercise Vigilant Guard, where he served as the Chemical, Biological Radiological, Nuclear and High-Yield Explosives, Enhanced Response Force Package First Sergeant, accounting for all Airman with zero incidences.

Full-time Company Grade Officer of the Year

During this period, Captain Kirsten Wolfford generated 14 PACAF Air Tasking Orders, 475 sorties scheduled and flown enabling JFACC to fulfill CDRUSPACOM requirements. She served as key essential Exercise KEEN EDGE Master Air Attack Planner coordinating 955 missions, 1,636 sorties in less than 5 days critical to Air Tasking Order execution of CFACC missions contributing to successful 5AF/JASDF largest bilateral engagement. Captain Wolfford was handpicked to fill critical CPD void as lone planner for three weeks completing 100% of required missions as one person shop. A stellar performer, enabling 40 B-2 missions and 350 hours flown in support of PACAF, enabling JFACC to demonstrate Global Strike core missions. She created ABP for joint US-Japan bilateral exercise, integration of joint and coalition forces, culminating 4K missions and 9K sorties executed on 9 Air Tasking Orders. Her tenacity helped drive training to the new operations position which increased knowledge and ensured ability of national tactical integration me the Joint Force Air Component Commander’s needs.

Traditional Company Grade Officer of the Year

During this period Captain Kimberly Gushikuma demonstrated outstanding leadership and technical expertise in the specialized field of Emergency Response for Homeland Defense. She is a key medical asset in the Reserve Component Physical Health Assessment process serving as the appointed Wing Infection Control Officer. Her direct contributions resulted in IMR statistics above the national average of 80% and the 154th Wings consistent medical readiness rating exceeding 84%. As the Unit Sexual Assault Prevention and Response monitor to the Medical group members and part of the Wing SAPR training requirements, a compliance rate of 92% was achieved. She was handpicked because of her initiative and leadership to serve as the Cold Zone Team Leader for Hawaii Chemical Enhanced Response Force Package Medical element during the Artic Shield Vigilant Guard Mass casualty exercise 2014. She also promoted the 154 Wing Suicide Prevention Health Fair as the assistant Wing Suicide Prevention Program Officer.

Full-time Field Grade Officer of the Year

During this period, Major Francis Shen led efforts on Chief of Staff Air Force and Secretary of the air Force tasker in liaison with multiple organizations and Pacific Air Force integral to allay potential $131 million dollar expense. His initiative ensured the facilitation and coordination for the Guam Active Duty system relocation project averting a 5 month delay. He oversaw a $4.5 million end of year funds execution restoring aging network infrastructure thus securing communication capes across 5 bases. Additionally, Major Shen drove theater Voice over Internet Protocol solutions deploying capes across 10 Main Operating Bases, 5 Collocated Bases to ensure critical C2, thus saving the United States Air Force $315,000. A model officer he was competitively selected to attend the National Defense University Reserve Component National Security Course. He authored Tactics Improvement Proposal during Air Reserve Component Weapons and Tactics posturing 10 Air National Guard Air Operation Groups for defense cyber operations in alignment with future Active Duty missions.

Traditional Field Grade Officer of the Year

During this period, the professional skill, leadership, and ceaseless efforts of Lieutenant Colonel William Takashima contributed to the successful execution over 240 comprehensive flight exams in 2014, well above the flight surgeon average of 180. He diligently completed over 50 waivers with the fewest returns from the National Guard Bureau at 4%, well below the national average of 18%. Additionally, he pioneered the change of Reserve Comprehensive Physical Health Assessment to Saturdays resulting in increased time available for required training and meetings by 15%. He reinforced the one medic to one physician physical exam process, expediting patient encounter and eliminating duplication of records reviews enabling an average of 100 more medical records to be thoroughly reviewed each month. Furthermore, he selflessly took a sabbatical from his private practice to deploy with the 203rd Air Refueling Squadron, resulting in 100% completed mission rate. He embodies the Air Force Core Values through his work commitment and performance.



Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard released the following statement commemorating the anniversary of the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and civil rights protest on Bloody Sunday:

“On this historic day, we remember those who marched across Edmund Pettus 50 years ago, to draw the nation’s attention to the immoral treatment of African Americans in our own country. Those brave souls sacrificed their bodies and seared images into the country’s conscience that fueled the civil rights movement.

“We remember that the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice, but only when we all stand up and speak out against bigotry and discrimination. As a nation, we must honor the memory of those courageous souls who marched on Selma, by continuing their work, and living aloha – treating all people with respect, compassion, and love. While times have changed, unfortunately we still see examples of bigotry, harassment, and discrimination in our country. Let this important day be a reminder that it is imperative that we understand and uphold the importance of protecting these sacred civil rights and equal treatment for all.”



Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard joined Congresswoman Martha McSally (AZ-02) and National Public Radio Pentagon Correspondent Tom Bowman for a discussion on “Women and Leadership in National Security” hosted by the Center for a New American Security.

The conference, which included keynote remarks delivered by Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, focused on the challenges of integrating men and women in the military.

Issues related to criminal justice and accountability, cultural, leadership, and institutional challenges as well as what it means to sustain an All-Volunteer Force in war and peace were the focus of two panels.

Gabbard and McSally focused their panel discussion (“The Social and Political Imperative”) on current reform efforts to create more opportunity for women in the military, how those efforts relate to political and societal trends, and broader perspectives on civil-military relations.

Both Members of Congress answered questions about their experience in the military, how to ensure fairness and equity in promotion and command selection, and why it is important for U.S. national security that opportunities to serve are open to women.

“There is a culture-change that needs to occur within the military with regard to female service members,” said Gabbard, who enlisted in the Hawaii Army National Guard in 2003 and currently serves as Military Police Captain. “While the number of women in senior leadership positions has increased greatly during the past 35 years, their numbers at the top remain small. Rather than seeing women as an integral member of the team, far too often women are seen as somehow disposable and are not an asset to the team’s accomplishing the mission. Ultimately, we must remain focused on ensuring that we maintain the best force to conduct the mission and get the job done. Women have a key role to play in accomplishing that objective, and strengthening our forces at every level.”

According to the Center for a New American Security, “more than 2.7 million service members have deployed over the past 13 years to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other theaters of war. Women represent the fastest growing demographic segment within this cohort and the U.S. veterans community as a whole, making up approximately 12 percent of the deployed force, a higher proportion than during any previous American war.”



Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard released the following statement after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress:

“It’s unfortunate that an issue as important as preventing Iran from attaining nuclear weapons has been muddled by partisan politics. This is an extremely serious issue, at a critical juncture, that should not be used as a political football. While the United States and Israel share a common objective in preventing a nuclear-armed Iran, the speech today and the events of this week made clear that there is disagreement over how best to achieve that objective. Despite the impropriety of how the invitation was delivered, the U.S.-Israel relationship remains strong and founded on bipartisan recognition of its importance.

“While there is hope that a negotiated solution to this problem remains within the realm of possibility, I am cynical. There are a variety of issues, including having already conceded allowing Iran to enrich uranium, Iran’s breakout capacity, and the continued lack of transparency and access for UN inspectors, that are of genuine concern. The objective must remain at the forefront: we must work together to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.

“The United States’ relationship with Israel must rise above the political fray, as America continues to stand with Israel as her strongest ally.”



Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard released the following statement after voting to fully fund the Department of Homeland Security:

“Fully funding the Department of Homeland Security is critical to our national security. Public safety should never be used as a pawn in a partisan political game. The bill passed today will provide more stability to an agency that is tasked with the vital role of protecting our homeland. Particularly in this time of increased global threats, Congress must provide the resources necessary to those who are charged with keeping the American people safe.”

The bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security funds the agency through the end of Fiscal Year 2015 (Sept. 30, 2015), and passed with a vote of 257-167. The bill will now go to President Obama for his signature.



Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard released the following statement after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote to adopt open internet rules:

“In our digital age, equal and fair access to the Internet is critical to preserving free speech, encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship, and upholding the bedrock democratic principles of America,. The Internet is an open and dynamic forum that fuels innovation; it should never become a system with manipulated slow or fast lanes, or special treatment for the privileged few. Today’s ruling by the FCC is a positive step forward that will help ensure a level playing field for all, further advancing the free-flow of information.”



Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard announced 23 finalists for the Hawaii 2nd Congressional District’s Kaha Kii Art Competition. Each spring, Members of the U.S. House of Representatives sponsor a national high school arts competition.

The contest recognizes and encourages creativity across Hawaii and the country.

“I am very pleased to see that more high schools and their students participated this year, sharing talents with the entire country,” said Gabbard. “The arts are key to academic learning, equipping students with unique cultural perspectives. Hawaii student artistic abilities are showcased by this year’s educator submissions. Our youth demonstrate such diverse talent that make Hawaii proud.”

Gabbard will announce the winners of the district-wide competition March 28 in a ceremony at the Hawaii State Capitol.

The first-place piece will be displayed for one year in the U.S. Capitol alongside winners from other U.S. congressional districts.

Gabbard has also created a “People’s Choice” competition on her official Facebook page featuring all 23 finalists, which closes March 26.

2015 Second Congressional District Finalists:

· Kenneth Basubas, Molokai High School
· Karina Bhattacharya, Baldwin High School
· John Cabias, Leilehua High School
· Reese Dalton, Parker School
· Rhea Erice, Leilehua High School
· Shion Goldstein, Le Jardin Academy
· Nicole Gottman, Leilehua High School
· Levi Holley, Baldwin High School
· Julia Kimoto, Baldwin High School
· Sean Lopez, Leilehua High School
· Annalina Lozano, Parker School
· Lili Maero, Le Jardin Academy
· Cendall Manley, Molokai High School
· Christina Masutani, Leilehua High School
· Shelby Mendes, Castle High School
· Ashley Polendey, Leilehua High School
· Scarlet Roberts, Leilehua High School
· Mia Scibelli, Parker School
· RJ Sigel, Castle High School
· April Supnet, Leilehua High School
· Tiana Tran, Le Jardin Academy
· Micah Yamanaka, Parker School
· Zoe Zivalic, Parker School

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