Speaking to RT from his deathbed, an Iraq War veteran with only days to live explained why he wrote a letter to George Bush and Dick Cheney demanding they apologize for destroying a generation.
Tomas Young, 33, has been in a paraplegic state since the moment he was injured in a 2004 insurgent attack in Sadr City. He says that battle — and the entire Iraq War — was one that never should have been fought.
Young enlisted in the military just two days after the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center driven by a thirst to seek revenge for the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans. But on the tenth anniversary of the United States’ invasion of Iraq this week, Young wrote a letter to former President George W. Bush and his running mate, Dick Cheney, condemning them for taking so many thousands of Americans to Iraq for a war that he says was neither justified nor legal.
“I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States,” he wrote. “I did not join the Army to ‘liberate’ Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called ‘democracy’ in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues.”
Instead, what Young got was a bullet in the spine. Speaking to RT’s Meghan Lopez this week, he said, “I wasn’t received as a hero or not as a hero” when he first returned to the States, and right away he noticed there was a strong opposition to the very war he had been accidently fighting. Any sort of ‘hero status,’ he said, came later when he joined the group Iraq Veterans Against the War.
Now nearly a decade after being injured, Young says his days are numbered. In 2008 he suffered a blood clot in his lung and slipped into a coma for four days after being deprived of oxygen for hours.
“By all accounts, I should be dead,” he tells RT.
Young is still alive today, but doesn’t expect to last much longer. He says the VA hospital he would go to refused him narcotics to treat chronic pain, apparently because his cries and moans were not as loud as the other veterans seeking treatment.
“They had an opinion that If I was in truly horrible pain, I’d be screaming my head off. Apparently they thought that the only people who really hurt are the people who advertise it most,” he tells RT.
Today Young is in a hospice facility but has stopped receiving any treatment for his multiple conditions, including those related to the paralyzing 2004 Iraqi ambush. He is also refusing nourishment and intends to very shortly die.
"This way, instead of committing the conventional suicide and I am out of the picture, people have a way to stop by or call and say their goodbyes," Young told TruthDig.com earlier in the week. "I felt this was a fairer way to treat people than to just go out with a note."
Before all is said and done, though, Young says there is something he still wants: an apology from Bush and Cheney. In the letter sent this week to the men he blames on the war, he wrote, “I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love.”
“I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war,” he wrote Bush and Cheney. “Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in US history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level – moral, strategic, military and economic – Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.”
When asked by RT if he hopes the so-called ‘real war criminals’ are prosecuted for their alleged crimes, Young said “absolutely.”
“That’s why they don’t leave the country. They are afraid that if they step down in another country they will be arrested,” he said.
Since publishing his open letter to Pres. Bush and Vice Pres. Cheney during the war’s anniversary, Young’s words have gone viral. Speaking to RT, he says he wants a response of sorts to be issued to not just him, but the rest of the United States.
“At the very least, I would like them to sincerely apologize to all of America for dropping the ball on Afghanistan and instead focused on Iraq. And I want them to admit that it was both a huge blunder and a terrible lie on the American people,” he said.
And to those who may have the desire to protect America like he did in the wake of 9/11, Young warned of what going to war really means.
“Make sure that your son or daughter understands that they don’t get to decide when or where they go to war. Its rich, predominately white men in the House and Senate that have the power to send children of other parents but not their own children off to die or be injured in a senseless war,” he said.