NOTE FROM BRAD: On August 28, 2005, I was the first in the national media to interview U.S. Army Specialist Tomas Young at "Camp Casey" in Crawford, TX. He and his then wife Brie had come down from Kansas City on their honeymoon to support Cindy Sheehan, the "Gold Star Mom" who was famously demanding a meeting with George W. Bush. Tomas' unarmored vehicle had been ambushed in Sadr City, Iraq on the same day that Sheehan's son Casey was killed in the same city. The attack left Tomas paralyzed from the chest down.
Since Bush had refused to meet with Sheehan --- claiming he had already met with her some months earlier, prior to proclaiming those who had died in Iraq had done so for a "noble cause" which he refused to define --- Tomas wanted to find out if he might be able to meet with Bush himself to ask what the "noble cause" was. We came up with the idea to paint a sign to help the media notice his plight. Some of the other veterans who were there as well helped to create the sign and it was, indeed, picked up by AP at the time.
Some years later, Tomas' story would be told on 60 Minutes, and then in a heart-wrenching 2007 documentary film, Body of War, by Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro. (My interview on the ground at "Camp Casey" with Tomas and Brie is seen briefly in both. The full audio of my interview with them is posted in full at the bottom of this article, after Tomas' letter.)
He and Brie have since divorced and Tomas remarried last year. Now, ten years this week after the launch of the War on Iraq, what was left of Tomas' body is failing and, as Chris Hedges recently reported, he has decided to let himself die. Now in hospice care, Tomas, who was 25 when we met and is now just 33-years old, plans to end his long fight. He says he will remove his own feeding tube sometime after his first anniversary with his new wife Claudia in April and before the second birthday of his niece in June.
The following open letter, which Tomas says is his "last", was originally published this week at TruthDig and republished in full here with their permission.
To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
From: Tomas Young
I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.
I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all-the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.
I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. 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...