"I want the people who stood up and beat the drum for this war to meet Tomas Young!" Phil Donahue cries to The Envelope about "Body of War," a documentary about a paralyzed Iraq war veteran that Donahue exec-produced and co-directed, which just landed on the Oscars' short-list of 15 finalists for best documentary feature. (Click here to see the full list.) "This nation will never be safe until its leaders start reaching out instead of lashing out!"
"What you see in this film, this drama, is going on behind how many thousands of doors in our country? — families who sent young men or women to this war," Donahue adds. "To come back with an injury that's not only life-altering for the victim, but it affects the whole family, as we see in this film."
Young was 22 years old when he answered President George W. Bush's rallying call to fight terrorism, but as soon as he joined the army, he got shipped off to Iraq, not to where he expected.
"At that time I thought he meant the countries involved, like Afghanistan," Young tells The Envelope in our video chat that was recorded on the eve of "Body of War" being debuted at the Toronto Film Festival. "So I joined because I was very patriotic and wanted to do something."
Young got shot soon after he arrived in Iraq. Paralyzed from the waist down, he not only faced new physical challenges in life, he started to question the switcheroo pulled by Uncle Sam after he signed up for one war and ended up in another.
"If George Bush worked for a big box retailer and ran an ad and switched the product around, he'd be fired," Young asserts.
"Body of War" is more than just an expose of a political and military tragedy. It offers an intimate glimpse into Young's daily life, which includes the inspirational presence of his new wife, Brie.
Eddie Vedder wrote the music for this documentary. Of Young, he croons: "I speak for a man who gave for this land/ took a bullet in the back for his pay/ spilled his blood in the dirt and the dust/ and he's come back to say/ That what he has seen is hard to believe/ and it does no good to just pray/ he asks of us to stand and we must/ end this war today."
(Camera work by Paul Sheehan)