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-   -   U.S. Issues Tomas Young, wounded KC Iraq War vet, is ready to die on his own terms (http://www.chiefsplanet.com/BB/showthread.php?t=271359)

Deberg_1990 03-21-2013 08:35 AM

Tomas Young, wounded KC Iraq War vet, is ready to die on his own terms
 
Tomas Young has been fighting for the last nine years, fighting his government, fighting the Department of Veterans Affairs and fighting his own deteriorating body.

But soon the struggle will be over. The Kansas City man who was paralyzed from the chest down by a sniper’s bullet during the Iraq war is now in hospice care and preparing to die.
Sometime in the next few weeks, after he has said all his goodbyes, he intends to refuse nourishment, water and life-extending medication. He expects his 33-year life to be over a few days after that.

“Because I’m tired,” Young explained this week from his bed. “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Young is mostly confined to his bed. His colon was removed in November and he doesn’t eat solid food. A pump that he controls provides anti-pain drugs through a tube into his chest. He gets nauseated and tires easily.

Those closest to Young, including his wife and his mother, support his decision. They want Young’s story to draw attention to America’s attitudes toward death and dying as well as to the continuing price being paid for the Iraq war, which began 10 years ago this week. American troops left in 2011.

In what may be Young’s final political gesture, the activist this week issued an open letter to former president George W. Bush and former vice president Dick Cheney on behalf of “the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.”

The letter, which is posted at www.truthdig.com, accuses Bush and Cheney of “egregious war crimes, of plunder and finally of murder.”

Young is accustomed to expressing strong opinions about the war. He was interviewed on “60 Minutes” and was the subject of the 2007 documentary “Body of War” produced by Phil Donahue. Musician Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam was inspired by Young to compose songs for the film.

Young’s experience strikes a nerve among people. A story about his current situation on The Kansas City Star’s website, www.kansascity.com, drew roughly 30,000 hits by Wednesday afternoon, more than three times as much traffic as the next-most-viewed story.

Young was a graduate of Winnetonka High School, class of ’98, and after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he decided to join the Army.

“I enlisted to go to Afghanistan because I felt that was, quote unquote, the right war, to go after the people that attacked us,” he said.

Young was distraught to be sent instead to Iraq, a conflict that he felt was not justified. He said an Army chaplain told him he would feel better once he got to Iraq and started killing Iraqis.

Young was in the country less than a week, on April 4, 2004, when he and many other soldiers were wounded while in the back of an open-air truck rushing in a rescue convoy in Sadr City outside Baghdad. He was 24 years old.

“It was like shooting fish in a barrel,” Young later said of the sniper attack that severed his spine.

Back home and in a wheelchair, Young struggled with post-traumatic stress but became a voice against the Iraq war. “Body of War” dealt with the congressional debate over the war resolution and took an unflinching look at Young’s daily medical trials.

Those became worse with a pulmonary embolism and anoxic brain injury in 2008 that impaired his speech and arms. He was in rehab in Chicago when a kindhearted woman who had seen the documentary began visiting him.

“I went down there to make it better for him,” said Claudia Cuellar. “I took him books and music and movies. We connected pretty quickly. I fell in love.”

Cuellar left her home in Chicago to be Young’s caregiver in Kansas City. Last spring the two married at the Clay County Courthouse so Cuellar couldn’t be excluded by a hospital from Young’s final moments. They were already thinking about that. Things soon began to get worse when Young experienced severe abdominal pains.

There were several hospitalizations and arguments with doctors over pain medication. Young left a VA hospital in October against medical advice. He and Cuellar were considering hospice care when doctors at a private hospital suggested a colostomy.
It was major surgery, but the couple thought it would buy some time and quality of life. But the pain returned.

Now Cuellar feeds her husband a liquid diet through a tube and grinds up pills when he is nauseated.
Leaving the bed is too much of an effort, so Young lies in a darkened room with a wide-screen TV and Bob Marley posters on the wall. Elsewhere in the house in Kansas City, North, are Pearl Jam memorabilia, photos of Young and Cuellar, and books on Tibetan Buddhism, her religion.

Knocks on the front door signal the arrival of a visiting caregiver or the delivery of meds. A happy dog named Buddy pads around with a tennis ball in his mouth.
Cuellar doesn’t cook anymore, lest the aroma cause her husband to think about food. Watching TV is hard because every other commercial seems to be about food.

After the last surgery did not make things better, Young and Cuellar again turned to the concept of palliative care.

“Finally I decided that … watching my body deteriorate, I was going to go into hospice care and eventually stop eating and drinking,” said Young.

Cuellar said it wasn’t that easy “getting off the medical merry-go-round where they want you to do more and more procedures and take more and more drugs. They make you feel like you’re giving up, like there’s something wrong.”

To be accepted into hospice, one technically has to have a terminal condition. Cuellar and Young prevailed when he was ruled to have an “inability to thrive” and was accepted by Crossroads Hospice.

Young said his choice was rational.

“When you feel like you’ve had enough with life, you can choose to go out your own way,” he said. “You don’t have to struggle through every day just to make it because you’re expected by society to endure until you die naturally or are murdered.”
As a longtime atheist, Young has no religious reservations about choosing to die.
Cuellar said her religion teaches that a person’s wish to be free from suffering is a karmically neutral act.

Young’s mother, Cathy Smith, has been on her son’s side for the past nine years and still is. She lives about five minutes from him and visits often.

“Though it’s probably the hardest thing any mother has to go through to watch your son go and to prepare for this,” she said, “I know he won’t be in pain anymore.”

Smith doesn’t believe her oldest child is committing suicide and says his decision is no different from a do-not-resuscitate order.

“My mourning has already been done,” said Smith. “I’ve already mourned for the son I had, for the man that he could have been, for everything that he could have done and accomplished. At the same time, the legacy that he has left with ‘Body of War’ and the interviews that he has done recently — not many people have left a legacy like that. That’s something to be proud of.”



http://www.kansascity.com/2013/03/20...k=omni_popular

Ace Gunner 03-21-2013 08:52 AM

bbbbbut we are winning

Comrade Crapski 03-21-2013 09:47 AM

How many times is this gonna be posted?

We get it. Dear Leader is a failure. You want to talk about the Iraq war again.

KILLER_CLOWN 03-21-2013 09:49 AM

Poor Guy, prayers sent young man. :(

listopencil 03-21-2013 09:55 AM

If you decide to enlist, it should be an intensely personal decision. A person can have a lot of different motivations for it. Once on active duty you typically have very little choice about the nature of your service other than choosing from a variety of jobs based on your assumed ability. I thank Thomas Young for his service, and I hope for a peaceful end to his bitterness and suffering.

Deberg_1990 03-21-2013 10:20 AM

I get his bitterness obviously...what i dont get is his reasoning. He says he joined because of Afghanistan, but didnt agree with Iraq. He could have just as easily been sent to Afghan and gotten shot there. Would he have been ok with that instead?

I wont get into the whole "rich guys sending poor kids off to fight and die" debate too much. I do think it should be a requirment for every citizen to serve in the military. We all live here...we all reap the same rewards. We should all share the same burden/risk to help defend those freedoms, benefits and rights.

Prison Bitch 03-21-2013 10:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Deberg_1990 (Post 9517993)
I get his bitterness obviously...what i dont get is his reasoning. He says he joined because of Afghanistan, but didnt agree with Iraq. He could have just as easily been sent to Afghan and gotten shot there. Would he have been ok with that instead?

I wont get into the whole "rich guys sending poor kids off to fight and die" debate too much. I do think it should be a requirment for every citizen to serve in the military. We all live here...we all reap the same rewards. We should all share the same burden/risk to help defend those freedoms, benefits and rights.

Bull. Military service should be voluntary. There is nothing we make totally involuntary in adult behavior really. You have a choice whatever career you want to pursue, forcing someone into it is anti-freedom and anti-capitalist. Frankly the military folks DO defend freedom with force but I feel like I (and 150 million other taxpayers) foot the bill for the military budget to begin with. All of us contribute. Whether you carry a gun, whether you teach our children in schools, nurse the sick, or pave teh roads.

Deberg_1990 03-21-2013 10:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Deberg_1990 (Post 9517993)
I get his bitterness obviously...what i dont get is his reasoning. He says he joined because of Afghanistan, but didnt agree with Iraq. He could have just as easily been sent to Afghan and gotten shot there. Would he have been ok with that instead?

ah ok...he explains the reasoning fully in his letter. Not sure i believe him 100%, but whatever.




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 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.


http://www.truthdig.com/dig/item/the...etter_20130318

Deberg_1990 03-21-2013 10:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Prison Bitch (Post 9518015)
All of us contribute. Whether you carry a gun, whether you teach our children in schools, nurse the sick, or pave teh roads.

Of course we all contribute in some way. BUt do we all risk our lives to defend our country? The ultimate sacrifice.

alpha_omega 03-21-2013 11:44 AM

Ha, just don't ask Frankie what he thinks.

oldandslow 03-21-2013 11:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Comrade Crapski (Post 9517888)
How many times is this gonna be posted?

We get it. Dear Leader is a failure. You want to talk about the Iraq war again.

Everyday. Forever. Cause people are forcing you to click.

demonhero 03-21-2013 12:05 PM

Young was distraught to be sent instead to Iraq, a conflict that he felt was not justified. He said an Army chaplain told him he would feel better once he got to Iraq and started killing Iraqis.


Makes me wonder why he even joined in the first place. The chaplains I've been around are so touchy feeling that I would try to avoid them.

patteeu 03-21-2013 12:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by listopencil (Post 9517916)
I thank Thomas Young for his service, and I hope for a peaceful end to his bitterness and suffering.

I agree with this. His letter is full of the ravings of a bitter man and should be ignored though.

Prison Bitch 03-21-2013 12:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Deberg_1990 (Post 9518032)
Of course we all contribute in some way. BUt do we all risk our lives to defend our country? The ultimate sacrifice.

Do you believe every American should also serve time as a cop or fireman?

seaofred 03-21-2013 01:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by KILLER_CLOWN (Post 9517894)
Poor Guy, prayers sent young man. :(

As an atheist, I don't think he wants your prayers.


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