Tomas Young, a wounded Iraq war veteran who has suffered numerous health setbacks in recent years, appeared on HuffPost Live on Thursday to discuss his controversial decision to end his life.
"A lot of people have told me I shouldn't do this because I have a message that's so strong," Young said, explaining the argument he has gotten from some anti-war activists after his widely shared open letter to former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney. "And to them I say, 'Nobody cared what I had to say until I said I wasn't gonna say it anymore.'"
Dying wasn't always part of Young's plan. In 2004, Young's spine was severed by a sniper's bullet just days into his first tour. He emerged paralyzed and upset that the administration's decision to invade Iraq, a country not involved in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that prompted him to enlist, had resulted in such trauma. But Young fought to bring back some semblance of normalcy to his life, a struggle that was documented in the documentary "Body of War." In 2008, however, Young suffered a pulmonary embolism and an anoxic brain injury that largely erased his progress. He was left with impaired speech, limited use of his arms and further complications that have required painful surgeries and treatments.
As Young' public profile as a powerful anti-war critic has grown in recent months, however, many have come forth to encourage him to change his mind about dying.
Speaking to HuffPost Live, Young said some of his critics were religious, telling him that he could not simply choose when to die, but that if he insisted, he must first accept their god into his heart. Young is a devout atheist.
Young went on to explain that his passing would be brought about simply by rejecting the daily care that he currently requires to eat and drink. He noted that he lacked the function in his arms for more conventional forms of suicide, saying he couldn't open a pill bottle or operate a firearm. Young also explained that he had made his decision with the concerns of those who loved him in mind.
"I'm doing it this way, over a period of time, so people can come by and say their last respects or whatever they have to say to me before I go," he said.
Young also spoke about his opinions on the military, saying that there were benefits to being in the armed services, but encouraging prospective enlistees to carefully consider the timing and circumstances of the decision.Watch Young's comments on military service: