A Look at the Extraordinary Life of Bryan Anderson
By David Block, Disabled Dealer Magazine
Thousands of people long to be published authors and actors, but in most cases their dreams never come true. However, that was not the case with Bryan Anderson, who lost both legs and his left hand in 2005, while serving in Iraq. The acting parts and book deals fell in his lap without him having to work at it. In addition, Anderson is also the national spokesperson for Quantum Rehab, a division of Pride Mobility Product Corporation. The 31-year-old Anderson of Illinois is no doubt leading an extraordinary life, but before he joined the military in 2001, his life was less than ordinary.
Prior to enlisting, Anderson worked at American Airlines. “I was going to the same pool hall every day after work with the same friends,” said Anderson.
He was bored with his life and needed to do something different, exciting and meaningful, so he joined the military.
While Anderson served his second tour of duty in Iraq in 2005, he helped train Iraqis to become police officers. However, on October 23, 2005, his whole life changed after a bomb explosion caused him to lose both legs and his left hand.
He was grateful to be alive. “It beats the alternative,” said Anderson, who added that he never for a moment preferred to die.
“I was depressed for a few months, while I was recovering at Walter Reed (National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD),” said Anderson.
Anderson had gone from a war zone straight to Walter Reed. “I forgot what real life was about,” said Anderson. He left Walter Reed for three days and traveled to Las Vegas. “I had a blast. Then I went back to Walter Reed and realized that if I’m having fun and it doesn’t make me think about what happened, or make me care, but just live in the moment, then that’s what I’m going to do.” Las Vegas helped end his depression.
Anderson had an easy time adjusting to being a triple amputee. He explained: “I wasn’t ready to not live a normal life, and not do normal things like go out and have beers with my friends.”
Anderson’s friends from before his accident still accepted him. “I made it easy for them,” said Anderson. “I told them, ‘Ask questions. I’m still me. Let’s do what we always did,' and that worked.”
Anderson’s friends always watched his back. One time while on his prosthetics, he and his friends were about to enter a bar. When the bouncer asked Anderson for his I.D., he held onto one of his friends in order to pull out his I.D. from his wallet. “The bouncer said, ‘I can’t let you in. You’ve been over served.’”
Anderson’s friends protested. They pointed to the prosthetics and explained that he was not drunk. They emphasized to the bouncer that he should have noticed the prosthetics, especially because Anderson had shorts on. “The bouncer let me in and he felt like a real idiot.”
Prior to Anderson becoming an amputee he snowboarded and rock climbed, and had no intention of quitting.
I have special prosthetic legs made for snowboarding,” said Anderson, “but it’s not easier to do. They have cushioning and springs in them. When I’m on prosthetics, they make me feel like my knees are slightly bent, the position I’m supposed to snowboard in. I figured it out by twisting and leaning. It didn’t come overnight.”
He also rock climbs. “It’s harder to rock climb now,” said Anderson. “I don’t wear prosthetic legs. I use a hook on my prosthetic hand. I use my arms to pull myself up.”
After he became the national spokesperson for Quantum Rehab, acting agents noticed him. He was in two episodes of the now defunct ABC soap opera, All My Children and he had a small part in the 2008 movie, The Wrestler, starring Mickey Rourke, who portrayed Randy “The Ram” Robinson. In one scene Robinson’s wrestling match spilled out into the crowd. Anderson handed Robinson one of his legs so he could hit his opponent with it. Robinson accepted it. “It was a fun scene,” said Anderson.
In 2011, Anderson’s book No Turning Back was published, a project which he originally had no intention of undertaking. Anderson remembered, “For years people kept saying, ‘you should write a book. I was like, ‘Why? I have nothing special to write. I got blown up. How many thousands of other people went through the exact thing? There was nothing interesting about that.’”
However when a literary agent approached him two and a half years ago, he finally changed his mind. “I told her,” said Anderson, “that I was tired of people telling me I should write a book. But now I had done some things and had something to say, so I went for it.” He has received positive feedback from readers who told him that they could not put his book down.
Besides promoting his book, Anderson has a TV show, Reporting for Service with Bryan Anderson. “It’s about volunteering and doing community service,” said Anderson.
For more information about Bryan Anderson, log onto www.andersonactive.com.
About the Author
As a freelance journalist, David Block he has more than 500 articles published in a variety of publications. In addition to writing, David is passionate about educating the public concerning the plight of veterans and people with disabilities. To this end, with little or no budget, he has produced several documentaries, which illuminate the talents, strengths and challenges of the blind athlete, the injured hero and the forgotten veteran. He personally promotes his work by teaching the blind sport goalball to fully sighted people. Check out his web site: www.blindfilmmaker.com