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Birthdate: Nov. 22, 1949
Birth Place: New York, NY, United States
Residence: Tucson, AZ
Rich Carmona was born in New York City, the son of poor Hispanic immigrants who struggled with alcoholism and drug abuse.
He dropped out of high school, enlisted in the Army, went to Vietnam and became a combat medic and member of the Special Forces.
After returning from Vietnam, he became the first member of his family to graduate from college, earning a medical degree from the University of California-San Francisco and later a master's degree in public health from the University of Arizona.
He and his family moved to Tucson, where he became chair of the state's Southern Regional Emergency Medical System, a professor of surgery and a deputy sheriff and surgeon for the Pima County Sheriff's Department.
In 2002, he was picked by President George W. Bush to be the country's 17th surgeon general.
After returning to Tucson, Carmona became vice chairman of Canyon Ranch, a health and wellness center. He also serves as president of the nonprofit Canyon Ranch Institute.
He and his wife, Diane, have four children.
Rich Carmona, a former surgeon general and decorated military veteran, is a lifelong independent who joined the Democratic party in late 2011 to run for the Arizona U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Jon Kyl.
Carmona made the decision after getting a call personally from President Barack Obama, asking him to run for the seat.
The day after Republican Rep. Jeff Flake won the nomination to oppose Carmona, the GOP began a campaign to discredit Carmona's moderate, independent credentials, saying he was a personal recruit who would be a rubber stamp for Obama and his heath care plan.
Carmona points out that he was the surgeon general under Republican President George W. Bush.
On health care, he said he believes all Americans deserve to have access to basic health care, but that the 2010 health care reform law was a complicated, rushed policy that is far from perfect.
Carmona said the solution is for bipartisan cooperation in Congress to tweak the law. He is a strong advocate of women's health rights, particularly abortion rights.
Carmona says he has been a registered independent his entire life _ even while serving under Bush _ but changed his registration late last year when he decided to run for the Senate.
On immigration, he supports the DREAM Act that would create a path to legalization for some children who were brought to the country illegally.
His campaign has focused on preserving the middle class and protecting Social Security and Medicare.
A former combat medic and Special Forces member in Vietnam, Carmona went on to become a vascular surgeon. At the same time, he spent 25 years with the Pima County Sheriff's Department, serving as a deputy sheriff and department surgeon and SWAT Team leader.
According to his political biography, he rappelled from a helicopter in 1992 to rescue a paramedic who was stranded on the side of a mountain after a helicopter crash. The rescue, his campaign says, inspired a made-for-television movie. He also received the National Top Cop Award and was named National Swat Officer of the year.
Carmona is a decorated Army combat veteran having received two Bronze Stars, two Purple Hearts and a combat medical badge.
Born to a poor Hispanic family in New York City, he said he was at times homeless and hungry as his parents struggled with alcoholism and substance abuse. Those experiences, he said, taught him early about economic disparities and social injustice and have shaped his understanding of how culture, health, education and economic status shape our country.
Source: Associated Press
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