Dying Iraq War Veteran’s Letter to Bush and Cheney
Much has been written, is being written and will be written on this tenth anniversary of the beginning of an unnecessary war that left more than 4,000 of our troops dead, a war that physically and mentally injured tens of thousands more of our troops and killed more than 100,000 Iraqis.
The Huffington Post has an entire section dedicated to this somber anniversary.
During the seven years of the Iraq War, I wrote piece after piece critical of the war, the lies, the conniving and the cabal that got us into that war and, most of all, mourning those brave men and women who sacrificed it all.
So, there is really nothing more for me to say.
But of all that I have written, of all that others have written, I do not believe there is anything more poignant than the words written by a man who was there, who was so severely injured there that he would never walk again, who — because of the injuries he suffered there — “for the next nearly nine years…would suffer a number of medical setbacks that allowed him to survive only with the help of extensive medical procedures and the care of his wife, Claudia,” according to the Huffington Post — by a man who is dying.
“There” is the killing fields of Iraq where, on April 4, 2004, then-24-year-old Tomas Young, just five days into his first tour, was struck by a bullet from an insurgent’s AK-47, a bullet that severed his spine. “Another [bullet] struck his knee.”
While Young has been a vociferous critic of the Iraq War, “he has saved his most powerful criticism for what he claims will be his last. Young says he’ll die soon, but not before writing a letter to Bush and former Vice President Cheney on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War.”
Young’s letter, addressed to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and published here, starts as follows:
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.
Young points out that he is also writing the 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…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…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,” Young says.
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.
Young goes on to attack the abuse of authority of the addressees who “sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.”
Young writes that, after 9/11, he joined the Army because he wanted to “strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of [his] fellow citizens,” not “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 also refers to the “mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction,” the “implanting” of “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East, and the “rebuilding” of Iraq.
Young says that he would not be writing the letter if he had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11: “I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.”
Young is critical of the care provided by the Veterans Administration to disabled veterans, questions Bush’s Christian credentials and concludes:
My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.
The Ridgefield Press reports that “in April [Young] intends to stop taking all nourishment and life-extending medications.”