Celebrated veteran and anti-war activist Ron Kovic told an audience in Santa Monica, Calif., on Sunday why he wrote “Hurricane Street,” a story of how “a bunch of severely disabled Vietnam veterans” organized to improve conditions at a veterans hospital in Long Beach, Calif.

READ: An Exclusive Excerpt From “Hurricane Street”

“The care we were receiving at the hospital at the time was in many cases abusive. Veterans were being neglected. … A bunch of us would meet in back of the spinal cord ward and soon we decided to form a group called ‘Patient-Workers Rights Committee.’ We had about 20, 25 people at first. We met every Thursday evening. … It began to slowly grow. … We had 150, I think, was the most we had. 150 paralyzed men in wheelchairs, but also veterans from other parts of the hospital, some nurses, some caregivers, aides who had courage and their own reason to protest.”

“There was word that the powers-that-be at the hospital had sent patients in to inform on us and to cause strife and arguments.”

The talk was hosted by Truthdig, co-sponsored by The Real News Network and held at the Robert Berman Gallery, where artwork by Truthdig contributor Mr. Fish was on display.

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