Some will say that
But this is not a preordained event, one that he himself invited.
It seemed like a good idea. He was working a job at
But they sent him to
Five days into deployment, a bullet severed his spine, paralyzing him from the chest down. Young's war now became one with his own body.
The 2007 documentary "Body of War" by
It's been death by degree. He's since suffered a pulmonary embolism, continuing bouts of depression, complications of pain medications, coma, bed sores and a colostomy.
Young plans on dying later this year, waiting at least until after his first wedding anniversary in late April. He will remove his feeding tube, and possibly hasten the end with drugs.
The decision will alarm some, leading to important discussions about death and dying.
But long after he is physically gone, Young's broader message will be to the nature of war. How its goal is to embed itself into a nation, attacking in ways not outwardly acknowledged.
Too often, war is seen through a distinct beginning, a surge and then an ending.
Yet returned soldiers from
The same week we marked the 10th anniversary of the
In interviews, Young has admitted that he wanted to die the day he was shot. If his lungs hadn't collapsed, he might have asked other soldiers to kill him. He understood the severity of his injuries.
Eight U.S. soldiers did die during the fighting that day around the
The level of care Young received at some points through the
He also chastises politicians who cavalierly send other people's children to combat. And he pricks the conscious of reporters who failed to probe military decisions.
The challenge is to continue seeing Young in every returning veteran, in the families that will spend lifetimes grieving a son or daughter who died in combat, in soldiers struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Young is not a pacifist. He has said that he would have been quiet after his injuries had he been sent to
Young recently posted a letter online to
"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," it reads.
The words are not the manifesto of an irrational angry young man, as some will try to discount it. They may be among the last public words of a very thoughtful man.
Among the struggles other people's ignorance laid at Young's feet, is the problem of the disabled being invisible, or viewed as if they are less intelligent.
But Young became wiser from his injuries, from his pain and suffering. Our job is to listen and learn.
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