Voters’ voices: When one issue matters most

Anna Weggel
Analyst
Public Insight Network

Editor’s note: This story one in a series of profiles of Public Insight Network sources who are finding ways to navigate political divisions ahead of Election Day.

Kristen McMillen lives in Fayetteville, N.C. Her fiance is a soldier based at nearby Fort Bragg. (Photo shared by Kristen McMillen)

Kristen McMillen lives in Fayetteville, N.C. Her fiance is a soldier based at nearby Fort Bragg. (Photo shared by Kristen McMillen)

Kristen McMillen, 23, only sort-of cared about elections in the past. “I would vote, but I didn’t really care in the end who won,” she said. But this year, she really cares.

The difference: Her fiance, Omar, is an active-duty Army infantryman. So this election season, Kristen’s paying close attention to foreign policy issues — and hoping that November’s election results will keep her future husband from having to deploy overseas.

Kristen and Omar live in Fayetteville, N.C., just outside Fort Bragg, the massive military installation that employs more than 55,000 service members and about 12,000 civilians. They consider themselves part of a community for which deployment — sometimes at a moment’s notice — is a daily reality.

“Through [the candidates'] words on foreign policy, I can definitely tell who seems to want to start wars, and who wants to pull people out of where we are now,” she said. “It’s weird, because I definitely didn’t follow that before. But now I find myself looking for articles and different sources to find out more.”

Although Kristen would have considered herself nonpartisan in the past, she’s pretty clear on her choice this time around.

“I feel like Obama is more military-friendly, even though he doesn’t have a direct connection to the military; but I also feel like he’s been in office already and he would be a stronger candidate because he’s dealt with this stuff,” she said. “When you’re connected to the military you think about things like Osama bin Laden.” Kristen says she doesn’t think every president would have directed bin Laden’s killing the way President Barack Obama did.

Omar becomes available for emergency deployment in January, she says. But for now, they will wait to see what happens in November.

 

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Anna Weggel Analyst
Public Insight Network

Anna Weggel is a Public Insight Analyst, which means she spends her time crafting questions about upcoming story topics to send to sources in the Public Insight Network and then produces web, audio and video content featuring those sources.

Before finding her home at APM in 2008, Anna received her B.A. in journalism, was the editor in chief of The Minnesota Daily, and internship hopped through Mother Jones, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Pioneer Press, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, and the Downtown Journal. Anna's non-work life is held hostage by the stage -- where she performs improv comedy and shows with her lady bluegrass band.