Exclusive: Dying Iraq War Veteran Tomas Young Explains Decision to End His Life
In the week marking the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, we spend the hour looking at the remarkable life and imminent death of Iraq War veteran Tomas Young. Citing his overwhelming physical pain from wounds that left him paralyzed in Iraq, Young recently announced he has decided to end his life by discontinuing his medicine and nourishment, which comes in the form of liquid through a feeding tube. Young joins to explain his decision from his home in Kansas City, along with his wife Claudia Cuellar. We’re also joined by Phil Donahue, the legendary TV talk show host, whose 2007 documentary, "Body of War," follows Tomas’ rehabilitation and his political awakening to become one of the most prominent antiwar U.S. veterans speaking out against the invasion and occupation of Iraq. "I am, on one hand, sick and tired of being sick and tired," Young says. "And on the other, I don’t want to watch my body waste away." Donahue calls Tomas’ announcement "a very unusual act of moral courage. He wants people to see this, because he came home from the most sanitized war of my lifetime. We don’t see this. But less than 5 percent of us, maybe 1 percent ... have made a personal sacrifice for this war. And Tomas is one of them."
Tomas Young, Iraq War veteran and the main subject of the documentary, Body of War. On April 4, 2004, his fifth day in Iraq, Young’s unit came under fire in the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad. Young was left paralyzed, never to walk again. Released from medical care three months later, Young returned home to become an active member in Iraq Veterans Against the War. He recently announced that he will stop his nourishment, which comes in the form of liquid through a feeding tube — a decision which will hasten his death.
Phil Donahue, one of the best-known talk show hosts in U.S. television history, his show was on the air for more than 29 years. In 2002, he returned to the airwaves, but he was fired in 2003 on the eve of the war by MSNBC because he was allowing antiwar voices on the air. Along with Ellen Spiro, he directed the documentary, Body of War, which tells the story of Tomas Young, an Iraq War veteran paralyzed from a bullet to the spine. Now, at the age of 33, Tomas has decided to end his life.
Claudia Cuellar, the wife and primary caregiver of Tomas Young.
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