It was doubly poignant to learn on Veterans Day of the death of Tomas Young. For the last 10 years, the longtime Kansas Citian had lived with extreme pain and immobility resulting from a bullet he took to his spine while serving in the Iraq war.
On his return, Young became an outspoken critic of the war and of those who committed U.S. forces to the Iraq campaign.
I got to know him a bit when I profiled him for The Star in 2007, as a documentary film about him, “Body of War,” produced by Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro, began to make the rounds.
He was as genuine as he was controversial, and it was impossible to feel anything but gratitude for his ultimate sacrifice, even in a misguided war, and utmost sympathy for the ordeal of living that amounted to his daily life.
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Young made headlines again last year when he publicly announced, through a letter to former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney, that he would stop treatment and nourishment and let himself die. He was brought back from that precipice by a loving wife.
“I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration,” Young wrote. “I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician.”
Young, 34, apparently had moved in the last year or so to Portland, Ore., where, as he declared on Twitter, medical marijuana was readily available to help assuage his constant pain. According to reports, he died on Monday, the final cause yet to be disclosed.
Condolences to his family and to those who admired his public courage.