The Inspiring Story of a Veteran’s Battle for Justice
“I came out of service with my health shattered. I had no “job skills” had I been able to work… I only knew how to ‘soldier.’ There was no demand for my services. A VA doctor told me to go home and ‘shoot myself’ as a relief to my government. Perhaps I should have.” —From a letter to Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, 2001, just months before Eddie, WWII hero, Prisoner of War, valiant soldier, passed away.
This book is moving, inspiring, enraging, hopeful and depressing all at the same time. In 2014 it came to light that the Veterans Administration has been delaying treatment for hundreds of veterans and that some of the delays have resulted in veterans’ deaths. “Something From Eddie” is about a veteran of World War II but it is as relevant now as at any time.
Told both as a narrative and by using his original letters, this is the story of Eddie Livingston, a hero of World War II, former prisoner of war in a Nazi prison camp, and self-described “poor white trash from Alabama.” When Eddie returned from Europe after his service he was denied benefits by the Veteran’s Administration. It was then that he set out on a 20 year campaign to get what was owed him. Along the way, he became a voice for justice and for veterans of every war. Though the diagnosis of PTSD did not yet exist when Livingston first returned to the United States after his service, he almost certainly had it. He also had permanent physical disabilities as a result of his service and confinement in the prisoner of war camp. He was unable to work and was, in many ways, a broken man. Yet he was able to find the strength to fight a decades-long battle with one of the most infuriating bureaucracies ever created: the V.A. Ironically, it may have been this battle that that gave his suffering meaning and gave him the purpose he needed to go on. Later in life, despite his personal struggles with illness and poverty, Eddie became a political activist for in other arenas, most notably the civil rights struggles of the 1960s.
Ultimately, this is an inspiring story of what one man is capable of accomplishing, no matter how hurt, damaged or battered and no matter the odds stacked against him.
Eddie’s service days in the United States Army include a recollection of heroism and bravery combined with pride and commitment to the American people. His capture and subsequent days as a Prisoner of War during World War II helped reshape his spirit through experiences no one should ever endure. Worse, his struggles as a Veteran, beginning in 1945 when he returned to the United States, provide a sour look at the bureaucracy that plagues US Soldiers still today. Lacking healthcare coverage, delays in payments and deficient diagnoses are only the beginning of Eddie’s 20 year struggle with Veterans Affairs and his endless correspondences with local and national politicians, including the President of the United States, to right the wrongs of the VA system.
Eddie Livingston was a proud man who lived his life struggling as a result of the government’s oversight in identifying his wartime injuries, and lack of compassion to revisit his case for nearly two decades before finally admitting to his need for additional help. Throughout his days of reclusion, Eddie battled congressmen, governors and even the Vice President of the United States to accommodate the rights of all citizens, especially during the Civil Rights struggles that defined the south throughout the 1960s, while still standing up for Veterans everywhere.