Hometown Hero's mission is helping other veterans

By Amanda Porterfield | aporterfield@wcia.com

Published 01/31 2014 06:36PM

Updated 12/12 2014 11:05AM

ILLINOIS -- Returning home from fighting overseas can be a hard adjustment. One veteran is helping make that transition a little smoother, even though he's had a bumpy transition himself. WCIA-3's Amanda Porterfield introduces our Hometown Hero.

Sometimes Garrett Anderson changes a veteran's life just by answering a phone call.

"If I only make a change in one person's life, it's enough."

From this office, he helps military men and women get everything from benefits to employment; even returning a war medal, lost for decades, to a veteran. He says, reaching out to them is easy, even with one hand.

"There's a reason why I am here and there's a reason why this happened to me. I have a mission in life and this is my mission."

Anderson joined the Army right out of high school, keeping with a family tradition. In 2005, he was serving in Iraq with the Illinois National Guard when his truck got hit with an IED.

"We were Army-trained so we were ready to react. All I wanted to do was grab my rifle and figure out who blew my truck up. That's what I was reaching for and then I realized I had no arm."

He broke his jaw in seven spots and has a brain injury. But, that doesn't stop him.

"I had like thirty seconds of pity on myself and told myself to suck it up and drive on. There are other things that could be accomplished. God doesn't give you anything that you can't take on. My wife wouldn't let me quit. We are at the point where we aren't going to let this simple thing as a missing arm, broken leg or missing body part stop us from our life's mission. That's a small thing compared to what happens in people's lives. We can push on and we can move on from this."

Anderson is now raising two daughters, has gotten a degree and helped dozens of veterans from Congressman Rodney Davis' office keep going, just like he's done.

"If I let my disabilities get in the way of what I accomplish here, then I would be sitting at home. You just adapt and overcome. And that's the military motto. You adapt, you overcome and you improvise."

Anderson says he takes it day-by-day but would love to be an elected official someday.

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