ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - The Alexandria VA hosted a special guest at their Individuals with Disabilities Month Program on Wednesday.
Sgt. Bryan Anderson, Iraq veteran and triple amputee with his dog Mya. (KALB)
Iraq veteran and triple amputee Sergeant Bryan Anderson shared his story of recovery after being injured by an Improvised Explosive Device thirteen years ago.
On October 23rd, 2005, Anderson lost both of his legs and left hand after his truck was hit by an IED on his second tour in Iraq. He didn't realize how badly he was injured until he tried swiping a fly away and completely missed his face. Eventually, he looked down.
"Inside my head, I let out a whole string of swear words," he told the audience at the VA auditorium. "Then I came to this conclusion that nope that did not just happen. Deep down I knew it happened. I really did. And then I just got this really weird feeling--oh crap, my mom's going to kill me!"
However, mom would stay by Anderson's side the entire thirteen months he spent at Walter Reed Army Hospital. It was hard at first. Anderson remembers breaking down in the shower.
"And I look down and all of a sudden it got in my head--oh my god, I'm half a person. oh my god, I'm half a person. And I just lost it," he said.
The veteran was determined to recover and stayed positive, maybe having a little too much fun at times--once driving a rental car to the bar with the help of a leg-less marine manning the gas pedals with his hands while Anderson steered. As luck would have it, the pair got stopped for a random inspection at the gate on their way home. Anderson said the guard was completely shocked when he opened the door and saw the pair but said: "Well shoot, you made it this far just go!"
The triple amputee continues to live his life without limits, doing everything from snowboarding to acting and stunt double work. He wrote a memoir called 'No Turning Back.' Anderson shares his story to give others hope.
"I don't see this as a tragedy," he said. "It's just another life experience that has taught me about who I am and what I'm capable of. Live, love, thrive. Just because bad things happen doesn't mean the rest of your life is going to be bad. You can't control what happens to you but you can control what happens after."
Anderson is the national spokesperson for Quantum Rehab, an ambassador for the Gary Sinise Foundation and spokesperson for USA Cares, a non-profit outreach for post 9/11 veterans in need.