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Veterans Will Return Medals During Anti-War NATO Protests (VIDEO)

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A U.S. Navy Medal of Honor recipient stands at attention while his award citation is read. (Wikimedia)
A U.S. Navy Medal of Honor recipient stands at attention while his award citation is read. (Wikimedia)

Veterans will return medals earned in Iraq and Afghanistan during an anti-war demonstration for NATO participants on May 20.

Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War organized the day-long protest, which will include a musical performance at the Petrillo Music Shell, a march and rally through the city and a ceremony at Michigan and Cermak where participants hope to return their medals to visiting NATO generals.

"What have we been doing? This is something that's on repeat in my mind every single day," said one veteran and IVAW member during a press conference. (See video above.) "I think its time that these generals ask themselves that question. We're asking them to come down and accept these tokens of the global war on terror that we don't want to be a part of anymore."

IVAW organizer and veteran Aaron Hughes, who pulled out of the University of Illinois in 2003 to serve in Kuwait under Operation Iraqi Freedom, says one of the group's main concerns is the need for adequate mental health care for returning servicemen and women, according to NBC Chicago.

On average, 18 veterans commit suicide every day, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is rampant among veterans who've seen combat, according to CBS Chicago.

The city has been clashing with activist groups interested in staging protests during next weekend's summit.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has granted few requests for demonstration permits, and a recorded confrontation between police and traveling protesters released this week suggests tensions will be high between the Chicago Police Department and activist groups when the summit kicks off May 19.

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