Body of War is an intimate and transformational feature documentary about the true face of war today. Meet Tomas Young, 25 years old, paralyzed from a bullet to his spine -- wounded after serving in Iraq for less than a week. Body of War is his coming home story as he evolves into a new person, dealing with his disability and finding his own unique and passionate voice against the war. The film is produced and directed by Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro; Karen Bernstein is co-producer; and Bernadine Colish serves as editor. The film features two original songs by Eddie Vedder. Body of War is a nakedly honest portrayal of what it's like inside the body, heart and soul of this extraordinary and heroic young man. The filmmakers hope the film will be theaters within the next year.
The first time I saw him will be with me forever -- paralyzed from the waist down -- he had that morphine look, droopy eyed, sallow, sunken, lifeless. Body of War is a film provoked by my own questions as I stood on my well functional legs at his bedside:
Who is this young man? Why him, not me?
I had accompanied my friend Ralph Nader who had been invited by the patient's mother. "She is caring for her son who was seriously wounded in Iraq. Wanna go?" A week later the two of us entered America's most famous military hospital. .
The closer you get to Tomas Young, the more reality sets in. T-4 is the spot on the spine that is severed. Anatomists know what this means: Not only can't Tomas walk -- he can't cough, his bodily functions are paralyzed, his bladder must be manually drained several times daily.
And no small issue for a male, just married. Twenty-six-year-old Tomas Young can't -- in the language of the locker room -- get it up.
This film, Body of War, is our effort to spread news that is not good -- news that is hidden behind the doors of homes all over this country. Dwellings occupied by the mere five percent of our population actually sacrificing for this war.
This film's story mirrors the stories of thousands of young soldiers who, like Tomas Young, have sustained life-altering injuries in a war mission that was "unnecessary" as Tomas tells Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes. This foreign policy decision was not only unnecessary, it was ill-considered and misguided from the start -- a mission that has never been -- and in Tomas' opinion -- never will be "accomplished".
Our film also revisits one of the most tragic errors of judgment ever made by a United States Congress. After engaging in a superficial dialogue, robotic Senators and House members are seen voting to approve the Iraq War Resolution in October, 2002. Members take the floor, one by one, reading talking points of the White House Iraq Group, the assembly of advertising agency warriors whose job was to sell the war. It was WHIG who gave the nation a litany of untruths:
Saddam has "unmanned aerial vehicles" to deliver toxins "over wide territories" and scary doomsday scenarios, "The smoking gun could be a mushroom cloud".
As the War Resolution is debated, our cameras watch as Tomas deals with the very personal consequences of this historic and unprecedented vote for pre-emptive war. It was this vote that put him in a wheel chair. Our film watches him coping with his body, his drugs, his anger, his marriage and his future. Who is Tomas Young? He's a young man who enlisted knowing he might be killed. He thought he might come home dead --
He never dreamed of coming home like this.
His is a true story of war; here is the un-sanitized harm in "harm's way." It is a story of a heartland kid who suddenly went from a social life of single bars and courtship to a daily routine of catheters, puke pans and erectile dysfunction.
I discovered a great American in Tomas Young, a warrior turned anti-warrior, a voice of courage rising above the war drums, a voice to "be heard behind the White House gate" in the words of the song Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder wrote for this film.
To all the main-streamers in the press who supported the invasion of Iraq, to the pundits who continue to talk tough while other people's kids die, to all the merry warriors who recruited Jesus to assist them in this massive foreign policy blunder --
I have a soldier for you.
Before the next president swaggers to the cameras challenging the enemy to "Bring it on," before the next Congress votes another War Resolution, my hope is that all these heavy breathing, lap top bombers take a moment to meet the First Cavalry's Honorably Discharged United States Army Specialist -- Tomas Young.
Originally posted here.