Voices for 2020: What Issues Matter Most This Election to a Veteran in Chicago

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Dr. Damon Arnold takes his right to vote seriously. After serving 26 years in the Army National Guard as a surgeon, Arnold says he and the other veterans “were not guaranteed coming back.”

Election Day, to him, is exactly why he and so many others served.

"Whatever your leanings are, it’s important for you to express your opinion," Arnold said. "That’s what they fought for and it’s a dishonor to them not to go out and vote."

Among the many places Arnold served, there were two tours of combat duty in Iraq flying on nearly 70 Blackhawk helicopter missions.

"We saw some helicopters go down while we were there and that helicopter, they said, 'We all had our rosaries on.' Whatever faith they were, they prayed," he recalled.

Those experiences certainly shaped who Arnold is today.

“When I was on the battlefield, it was 3 o’clock in the morning in Iraq, and I saw the flag and these RPGs were blowing up in the air, landing on the ground," he said. "And you have a sense of fear. But you realize that the thing that’s protecting you is the nation; it’s the people."

Arnold said he’s voted for Democrats and Republicans: he makes his choice not based on party affiliation.

"I voted for George Bush, I voted for Barack Obama. I vote for people based on the content of their character," Arnold said.

Besides his military service, where he rose to the rank of colonel, Arnold also once led the Illinois Department of Public Health. This voice of 2020 urges voters to cast their ballots.

"I don’t care if you’re a Republican, Democrat, Green Party. It’s when we start bringing people with disparate views together, we start mending our nation together," Arnold said. "If we keep going down this divisive pathway, we’re going to end up with shreds of what there used to be a flag."

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