Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

Tomas Young, Paralyzed Iraq War Veteran and Antiwar Activist, Dead at 34

November 11, 2014 by Brett Wilkins in Protests, War, War on Terror with 0 Comments
Tomas Young in 2007. (Ellen Spiro)

Tomas Young in 2007. (Ellen Spiro)

Tomas Young, a paralyzed Iraq war veteran from Kansas City who became an outspoken critic of the Bush administration’s war against a nation which had no involvement in the 9/11 attacks, has died at age 34.

Young died at his Seattle, Washington home on Monday, the eve of Veterans Day, Democracy Now! reports. He enlisted in the Army following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States, hoping to be deployed to Afghanistan to find and kill those responsible for the worst-ever foreign attack on American soil.

Instead, Young was shipped off to Iraq to fight in a war of choice initiated by the Bush administration on highly dubious grounds. Five days into his deployment, Young was shot through the spinal cord and paralyzed while patrolling the Baghdad suburb of Sadr City, an insurgent stronghold, in an unarmored, uncovered Humvee. He seethed.

“When I made the phone call on September 13, it was because I saw the pictures of [President George W. Bush] standing on top of the [World Trade Center ruins] saying that we were going to smoke the evil-doers out who did this to us,” Young said in the award-winning 2007 documentary feature Body of War.

“After a while, it became clear that we weren’t going to go to Afghanistan,” he lamented.

“Many of us volunteered with patriotic feelings in our heart, only to see them subverted and bastardized by the administration and sent into the wrong country,” Young told Democracy Now! in 2008.

“If I had been injured similarly in Afghanistan, there would be no Body of War film,” Young told the Los Angeles Times in 2008. “I would have taken my government stipend and shut up, and sat back in my house.”

In 2013, Young once again made headlines after writing “The Last Letter: A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney From a Dying Veteran.”

An excerpt:

You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Last year, Young declared his intention to end his life. He said he would refuse his medications and his feeding tube, but later decided he would no longer set a date for his death.

“I want to spend as much time as possible with my wife, and no decent son wants his obituary to read that he was survived by his mother,” he explainedto the Kansas City Star last May.

But that’s exactly what his obituary now reads.

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