When I think about disability pride, I think of it in terms of being proud of who I am. When I became a triple amputee because of my injuries in Iraq, one of the hardest things for me to accept is that I was no longer the same person. I was concerned about how others would think of me. And now, I know more about who I am as a person than I ever did before. I am proud of who I am and I am comfortable in my skin.
Even with my disability, I am incredibly active. I can still participate in a lot of the same activities that I’ve always loved to do, I just do them a little differently. Some of my favorite things to do are skate boarding, golfing, shooting, riding, and video games. I also enjoy rock climbing, snowboarding, wakeboarding and white-water rafting. Honestly, I am up for pretty much anything I can do outside! Being a triple amputee doesn’t stop me from living life and doing what I love to do.
Being proud of who I am means using my disability to serve and help others. Having a purpose keeps me moving forward. I enjoy the work I do for organizations like Quantum, USA Cares and the Gary Sinise Foundation. Having the chance to speak and interact with other veterans like me in VA hospitals or events is great because I know what these vets are going through. Recovering from an injury is not easy. If I can use my disability to help others move forward and accept who they are, then we can all go forward and make a difference in the lives of other people, whatever our purpose is.
Surviving my injuries has made me appreciate life in a whole different way. I love that life gives you so many possibilities and the potential for making truly amazing things happen. With new each adventure comes great people and great experiences. I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.
About Bryan Anderson: Bryan grew up and resides in Illinois. Injured by an IED in October 2005, Bryan is one of the few triple amputees to survive his injuries in Iraq. He is an ambassador for the Gary Sinise Foundation and a spokesperson for USA Cares, which is focused on assisting post 9-11 veterans. Click here to learn more about Bryan.