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Tomas Young, Paralyzed Veteran and Anti-War Activist, Dies at 34

Image: Tomas Young, Paralyzed Veteran and Anti-War Activist, Dies at 34
Tomas Young, a paralyzed Iraq vet with his wife, Claudia Cuellar. (Jill Toyoshiba/MCT/Landov)

By    |   Wednesday, 12 Nov 2014 01:26 PM

Tomas Young, a paralyzed Iraqi War veteran and antiwar activist from Missouri who was the subject of the documentary "Body of War," died Monday. He was 34.

It's not clear exactly how Young, who was injured by sniper fire a week after he arrived in Iraq in 2004, died, but he's no longer suffering, his mother said.

"If Tomas Young could get up every day and be in the pain he was in and still speak out about the war, it made it easier for the other guys," Cathy Smith told The Los Angeles Times Tuesday. "He always said if we saved one 18-year-old from joining the military, that's enough. And he did."

Young joined the Army two days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but was distraught about being sent to Iraq instead of Afghanistan, according to the Kansas City Star.

"I enlisted to go to Afghanistan because I felt that was, quote unquote, the right war, to go after the people that attacked us," Young once said.

He was in Iraq less than a week when his unit came under attack and a sniper's bullet severed his spine, paralyzing him. He later returned home and became an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq, former President George Bush, and former Vice President Al Gore.

Phil Donahue, who created the "Body of War" documentary, recalled his first meeting with Young at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

"Tomas was paralyzed from the nipples down; that meant he would never walk again," he told The Times. "He couldn't cough. You use your abdominal muscles to cough. There's no power over anything from his chest down. Twenty-four years old. Prime-of-life male. Impotent."

"The first thing you think is why him and not me," he continued. "I thought people should see this. I believe that if you're sending young men and women to war, you should show the pain. So I decided to make this film."

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Tomas Young, a paralyzed Iraqi War veteran and antiwar activist from Missouri who was the subject of the documentary "Body of War," died Monday. He was 34.
tomas young, dies, army, veteran, protest
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2014-26-12
Wednesday, 12 Nov 2014 01:26 PM
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