Washington: Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu member of the US Congress and a Democratic presidential hopeful, has announced that she will leave the campaign trail for two weeks of training exercises in Indonesia that include counter-terrorism.
Gabbard, who has deployed to the Middle East twice in her time in the Army National Guard, heads to active-duty training during a crucial time in her 2020 presidential campaign.
"I look forward to joining my fellow soldiers for a joint-training exercise with the Indonesian military, focused on counter-terrorism and disaster response," the 38-year-old congresswoman from Hawaii announced on Monday.
Gabbard is the first ever Hindu lawmaker in the US Congress. She is also the first ever Hindu to run for presidential elections. Currently, there are nearly 20 Democratic presidential aspirants in the race to challenge incumbent Donald Trump for the 2020 elections.
A practising Hindu, Gabbard is of Asian, Polynesian, and Caucasian descent.
"I'm stepping off of the campaign trail for a couple of weeks and putting on my army uniform to go on a joint training exercise mission in Indonesia," she told CBS News.
Gabbard has also taken two weeks off to report for active service in 2017."I love our country. I love being able to serve our country in so many ways including as a soldier," she said.
"And so while some people are telling me, like gosh this is a terrible time to leave the campaign, can't you find a way out of it? You know that's not what this is about."
"I'm not really thinking about how this will impact my campaign. I'm looking forward to being able to fulfil my service and my responsibility," she said.