Most Americans believe that the first war in Iraq is over; they are people who didn’t have to serve there in uniform. Not everyone knows about Tomas Young, who, after returning from Iraq with a mutilated body, continued to fight against U.S. war crimes by simply employing the truth.
Tomas Young died at age 34, one day before Veteran’s Day this year. He had joined the military just after the cowardly attacks on 911. His intent was to fight the terrorists who organized the events in Afghanistan. Instead he was sent to Iraq. Only in the country for a few days, he was shot on April 4, 2004 in Baghdad. His injuries left him paralyzed from his armpits down. When he returned to his home, he became a critic of the Iraqi War, and fought to expose the half-truths and falsehoods being told by the Bush Administration and the Generals in charge of the campaign. He never missed an opportunity to cry out for justice; he wanted Bush and Cheney tried for war crimes. Tomas Young suffered for ten years because of his injuries.
Phil Donahue had the longest tenure in history of any daytime talk show host; he was on-air for 26 years. It may have lasted for a much longer time if the first Gulf War had not been waged. Beginning in 1990, and culminating with Operation Desert Storm in 1991, Donahue criticized America’s involvement in the Mideast. One by one affiliates cancelled his show’s broadcast in 1995 through 1996, until his final appearance on September 13, 1996.
Donahue met Tomas Young in 2005 at the Walter Reade Army Medical Center. He discovered a frail man who was constantly on pain-relieving drugs. None of his lower extremities functioned including his sexual organs. At first considering writing a book, the meeting prompted Donahue to produce the documentary “Body of War,” which was released in 2007. It tells the story of Tomas Young and the horrors of war. In one segment of the film, Tomas Young can be seen at the forefront of protestors as Congress was authorizing George W. Bush to invade Iraq inside the Capitol Building.
The film reveals what information the Generals were prompted to divulge to the American public; continuously attempting to convince the nation’s people that the war was necessary. It also spoke of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s instructions to the press regarding what information they could reveal. It talked of Karl Rove’s manipulation of the press and Republicans in Congress.
Mr. Young participated in several interviews, constantly berating the war in Iraq, and describing the horrific deaths and injuries because of the illegal invasion of a sovereign country. He explained frequently that he would not be vocal, complaining about his condition if he had suffered his injuries in Afghanistan where he had hoped to fight the authors of the attacks on 911. He was against the Iraq War, and rallied against the fact that he was forced to participate.
Mr. Donahue had a new show on MSNBC in 2003. It became a forum for his attack against the war in Iraq. It was soon cancelled due to ‘low ratings.’ On FOX news, also known as the ‘Republican Network,’ Bill O’Reilly’s show was flourishing. O’Reilly was on at the same time as Donahue, and he was a huge supporter of the war and Bush.
In addition to constant suffering, there were other indignities. At one point the V.A. took him off most of his pain medication, citing his ‘addiction.’ He was forced to say good-bye to his younger brother, Nathan, as he was deployed twice to Iraq. He married Brie Townsend, his high school love, only to experience a divorce eight months later. He openly stated that he was considering suicide.
Tomas Young was in a rehab center in Chicago when he met a volunteer by the name of Claudia Cuellar. His condition was diminishing at the time. They married in April 2012, and his contemplation to commit came to an end. The couple decided to move to Portland, Oregon, where they could obtain medical marijuana.
At the time of his death, the sleeping pills and morphine, nor the marijuana, was sufficient to allow sleep or periods of time without pain and nausea. His mother simply stated that his body ‘wore out.’
Tomas Young dead at the age of 34.
By James Turnage