Wounded Iraq Vet Prepares to Die, Saying He's 'Ready to Go'


Although Young has been involved in protesting the Iraq war for years, his final piece of political activism is an open letter he wrote to former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney accusing them of war crimes.

"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," it reads in part.

ABC News' Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz has covered the war in Iraq extensively, writing a book, "The Long Road Home" about the battle in Sadr City in which Young was injured.

She sat down with the man who saved Young and others, Robert Miltenberger several times since the battle. He served as a staff sergeant in Sadr City in 2004.

Miltenberger, who was awarded the silver star for his bravery, told Raddatz in 2005 that he thought about Young and others often, telling her the memories were "haunting." In November 2011, she interviewed him again and he said he had told Young that he apologized to him for what happened right after he was paralyzed.

"I was telling him that I was sorry that I lied to him, that he wasn't paralyzed, that people were lying on his legs and he was just numb from all the weight and stuff," Miltenberger recalled. "He said it was okay. He didn't blame me."

Young's reaction to hearing those words was that "I've never had any hard feelings and I never considered it lying. I was just trying to keep my head above water."

Young said he would like to talk to Miltenberger before his life ends.

Young says he wants the country to learn from his struggle that "war is the last resort" and in future conflicts the American government should try diplomacy and "if they are still not cooperating they should send in a small group of elite trained forces not 125,000 19-year-old kids whose first cultural experience is eating at the Olive Garden or Taco Bell. "

"I want our government to try every possible outlet with the country before invading it, before going to war," Young said.

Young added that if the United States does go to war then "all boxes must be checked."

"Make sure that the soldiers, marines, and sailors have the best body armor, the best armor around their vehicles," Young said before Cuellar added, "And having a healthcare system that will take of you when they get back. I mean, they just can't be abandoned when they sacrifice for their country."

Young's mother Cathy Smith, whom he says has worked as a "pit bull" on his behalf, is also almost always by his side.

He said "she's come around to the conclusion that it would be far more selfish for her to want me to stay alive and be in pain the rest of my life than just let me go."

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