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Truth-telling Iraq vet is medical cannabis user

Posted on April 7th, 2013 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

Tomas YoungTomas Young, a disabled Iraq war veteran in Kansas City, Mo., made fame last month when he announced his intention to end his own life in a scathing open letter to George Bush and Dick Cheney. In the letter, online at TruthDig, Young says he joined the army out of a sense of duty after 9-11—and felt betrayed by his deployment to Iraq:

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.  
Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character... 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.  
I joined the Army two days after the 9-11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army 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. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called "democracy" in Baghdad and the Middle East... I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in US history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.  
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.

On the fifth day into his Iraq deployment, Young's unit came under fire from insurgents in Baghdad. He was hit and suffered a spine injury. After his return to the US, he campaigned against the war from his wheelchair and in 2007 was the subject of a documentary, Body of War. In 2008, he suffered a pulmonary embolism and an anoxic brain injury due to a reduced oxygen supply, that has impaired his speech and arm movement. A colostomy operation last year provided only temporary relief. Unable now to eat solid food, he is fed through a tube in his stomach. The skin on his hips is breaking down, exposing raw flesh and bone. Said his wife, Claudia Cuellar: "It's not that he wants to die—he simply doesn't want to suffer any more." She added that only medical marijuana eases his discomfort and gives him peace of mind without the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs. (BBC News, Live Leak, March 30)

Photo of Tomas Young visiting Ground Zero from Wikipedia 

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