2008/10/04:Film illustrates Iraq War veteran's plight - IVAW


Film illustrates Iraq War veteran's plight

By Brian D. Bridgeford / Baraboo News Republic / Oct. 4, 2008

A disabled Iraq War veteran will share his trials, triumphs and views when the documentary "Body of War" comes to Baraboo for a single showing tonight at the Al. Ringing Theatre.

The film is the story of Tomas Young, who signed up for military service a few days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He was sent to Iraq and, less than a week later, suffered bullet wounds that paralyzed his lower body less.

The film was produced and directed by talk show host Phil Donahue and documentary filmmaker Ellen Spiro. Its soundtrack features original songs written and performed by Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam fame.

Young has a real story to tell, said Sue Holmes, who helped bring the film to Baraboo. The documentary portrays his developing views on the war and weaves video of the Congressional voice vote to go to war through his comments.

"It shows the aftereffects of war," she said. "If we're going to be sending young men and women off to war, then we need to understand the ramifications.

"We should know this part of it," she said.

Sue's husband, Tom Holmes, said he was impressed by scenes that portray Young interacting with West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, one of the most vocal opponents of the original vote to go to war.

Young was a person swept up with patriotic feelings after the terrorist attacks. He hoped to fight the terrorists in Afghanistan where the attack was organized.

"He signed up on Sept. 13 of that year expecting to go and fight in Afghanistan against the Taliban, and instead they ended up sending him to Iraq," Tom Holmes said. "He was only there five days before he was severely injured."

The film is a window into the experiences of tens of thousands of Iraq War veterans who have returned home and are trying to make a new life for themselves and their families. Young has endured troubles such as a marriage that didn't work out and is presently hospitalized for treatment of complications from his wounds.

"It's tragic, but it's something that we need to see," Tom Holmes said.

The Holmeses first saw the film during a conference in June. "We were so impressed with the film I asked Mr. Donahue how we could get the film here," she said. "The problem is the major theaters are not showing it."

The couple contacted friends and raised money to have the film shown at the Al. Ringing. All money raised by ticket sales will benefit Young.

The Holmeses, who have actively opposed the war in Iraq, believe the film presents an example of what the war has done.

"We thought it was important to get it here," she said. "Phil Donahue spent his own money and three years of his life, and three years of (co-director) Ellen Spiro's life. It's a stunning portrayal of the impact of war."

Theater manager Larry McCoy said bringing "Body of War" to the Al. Ringing is consistent with the non-profit theater's mission. Supporters of the documentary needed a place to share the film with Baraboo-area residents, and the Al. Ringling had an opening in its schedule of films.

"The way I see the theater's use is I see it as another opportunity to be open to the community and all ideas that are out there," he said. "I'm open to making the theater available to as many groups as possible.

"That's why it was built by Al. Ringling in 1915 and we're still doing that today," McCoy said.

If you go

* What: "Body of War"

* When: 7 p.m. tonight

* Where: Al. Ringing Theatre, downtown Baraboo

* Cost: $7.50 for adults, $5 for students or seniors. All money raised from admission will benefit Tomas Young.

On the 'Net: http://www.bodyofwar.com