Monday, March 16, 2009

Man plans 10-state walk to spread messages about veterans, sobriety

Man plans 10-state walk to spread messages about veterans, sobriety

March 15, 2009 - 8:32 PM
Charlie Hall
Sun Journal
After 21 years in the New Bern area, Allen Liverman is going to hit the road - on foot - in April with what he believes are some important messages for anyone who will listen.

Liverman, who lives in James City, is in the process of selling his single-wide mobile home and putting his belongings in storage.

The first weekend in April he plans to strap on a backpack and begin walking south on U.S. 17 to spread messages about veterans' needs, and his own sobriety.

His ambitious plan includes touring 10 Southeastern and mid-Atlantic states over the next year, then writing a book about his findings.

Along the way, he also plans to stop at churches and AA meetings to share his own story of 10 years off the bottle.

Liverman, who has worked in construction most of his life, is not a veteran, but said he has the utmost respect for those in the military.

He has a sign for his backpack that "Steppin for the Vets."

"It's to bring awareness of the vets' needs and try and get them some help that they deserve," he said. "Basically, I'm going to talk and listen to the vets I come across. When I get back to New
Bern, I'm going to put this together in a book, "What The Vets Say," and send it to the politicians in Washington, D.C. In a nutshell, it's advocating for veterans' rights."

He said his concern about veterans' benefits and treatment by the government came to a high point when his cousin, a veteran, died last year.

"The walk is in honor of him. He was like my big brother," he said. "He was in Vietnam in '66 and '67 and he passed away with colon and liver cancer - Agent Orange-related. His passing is what kicked this into gear. He was diagnosed this past October 23 and passed away November 23 - 61-years-old."

Liverman feels veterans face too much red tape when it comes to getting benefits and medical treatment.

"The government is surely not doing the vets right," he said. "It is basically all this beuracratic mumbo-jumbo they've got to go through to get any assistance."

He said veterans deserve more than medals and citations.

"Those don't compensate these veterans for what they've done," he said. "The reason we are able to do what we can in this country is because of all the vets - past, present and future."

Liverman, a Virginia Beach native, has been married twice, with one marriage ending because of his drinking. Aside from construction and restaurant work, he was a harmonica player and frequented bars and honky-tonks for years.

"I'm still an alcoholic. I just don't drink anymore," he said. "I was an alcoholic for 23 years. I didn't drink every day, because my body wouldn't take it. But when I did drink, I drank to excess. I didn't drink for the taste or to relax. I drank for the effect, to get drunk and numb my mind of all of my so-called troubles."

Now, he wants to share his story of 10 years of sobriety, which was set in motion when his father had a stroke.

"The night they took him to the hospital, I was scared and I handled the situation like I always had in the past," he said. "I drank a fifth in the little shed out back of my trailer, chasin' it with a bottle of Mountain Dew."

That night, he said, his fear gave way to a plea for help.

"I got to my knees and asked God to take the desire to drink away from me once and for all," he said. He quit drinking and did odd jobs while taking care of his father, who moved into a nursing home two years ago.

On the walking trip, Liverman will travel light - two small tents, a couple of changes of clothes, some writing notebooks, a small camcorder, a digital camera, and his harmonica.

His planned route goes to Key West, Fla., across the Gulf states to New Orleans and then northeast through Tennessee to the nation's capital, and back along the Outer Banks to New Bern.

He estimates his trek will be more than 3,000 miles.

"I walk all the time, anyway, probably 50 miles a week," he said.

He plans to document his trip with video, photographs and his journal entries.

Liverman has an e-mail address and invites anyone who wants to keep up with his journey to write. He plans to use library and free computer sites along the way to check messages.

"I'm not asking for any money," he said. "But if anyone wants to find out how the trip is going, write me."

He has attended two years at Craven Community College, studying photographic technology. He said that when his trip and book are complete, he will still be in his early 50s and will need to find a job.

"But for now, I don't have a wife, or children and it's the time in my life to do this," he said.

Liverman's e-mail address is

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