Eldson McGhee volunteered for the draft not long after he graduated from high school in 1967. “I would serve my country, make my folks proud, and return home victorious,” McGhee says in his well-written, readable memoir, Short Changed: Memoir of an American Combat Veteran (Tree Hugger Publishing, 232 pp., $13.95, paper). “I’d then take advantage of my veterans’ educational benefits, go back to school, and become the lawyer I always wanted to be.”
It didn’t quite work out that way. McGhee did Basic at Fort Benning, then Infantry AIT at Fort Gordon, and arrived in Vietnam early in December of 1967. He was assigned to Company C, 3rd Battalion of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. McGhee saw more than his share of combat, was wounded, and then became addicted to heroin after being treated with morphine.
His homecoming was, to say the least, rocky. His drug use and psychological trauma led to a life of crime that culminated with incarceration. But this life story has a redemptive ending.
After McGhee was released from prison, he was treated for PTSD, and started his own business. He later went to work at the VA Hospital in Atlanta. In June of 2001 he founded Vietnam Veterans of America’s Chapter 883 in Atlanta.
Since then, he has served as the chapter’s president, and has worked tirelessly as a veterans’ advocate. In 2007, McGhee received an Outstanding Georgia Citizen Award from the Georgia Secretary of State. Last year he was appointed Chair for Minority Affairs by the VVA Georgia State Council.
McGhee is donating ten percent of the profits from this exceptional book to Chapter 883. For more info, go to the book’s website.