Staff Sgt. Ryan Anderson: Finding higher ground
By Annette P. Gomes, Army Warrior Care and Transition

ARLINGTON, Va. - From the very start, retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Anderson has dreamed of having his own business.

"I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I thrive on the 'sink or swim' mentality and love being responsible for myself and being my own boss," Anderson said. "I would much rather work 100 plus hours a week for myself than 40 hours for someone else," he added.

The Pennsylvania native says his drive comes from advice he received from his father as a child.

"I grew up in Section Eight housing where drugs and violence were a norm, but I refused to let my environment, which was full of negativity, be an excuse for me not succeeding," Anderson said. My father always told me that knowledge is power and that I controlled my own destiny. He also told me that if I want something in life, I would have to go out and get it. I guess to sum it up, I am too afraid to fail. I don't ever want my wife or son to live like I did growing up. They are too important to me!"

In January of 2008, Anderson's commitment to honoring that promise began when he enlisted in the Army. After graduating from Advanced Individual Training, Anderson answered another calling; joining the Special Forces. He went on to become a Green Beret. It's an honor he credits to laying the groundwork for his success.

"Veterans bring discipline and are result driven by nature. We are used to proving ourselves and not letting others down. Being a Green Beret taught me a lot about being a business owner. It also taught me to be self-sufficient and to make something out of nothing while thriving as you do it. You work until the job is complete, do your best all the way through, and never give up no matter how many cards are stacked against you," Anderson said.

In 2014, Anderson faced a few challenges. During an airborne training exercise, he suffered multiple injuries including a damaged shoulder. He was assigned to the Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Bragg, North Carolina to recover where his desire to begin his own business went into overdrive. He took the North Carolina electrical contractors license and the North Carolina plumbing examination. In 2017 he opened Anderson's Electric - a 24 hour electrical and plumbing company.

"Life is not over when you go to a WTU, it's a transition to other endeavors. Time will always move forward so it's up to you to use your time wisely," Anderson said. "I am very grateful to the WTU for allowing me the opportunity to start and build my business. I had a really great support network there from my squad leader, Sgt. 1st Class Jose Aponte and platoon leader, Staff Sgt. Ebony Dawkins," Anderson said. "The Fort Bragg Transition Coordinator, Mr. Larry Lingenfelter, always kept me informed with Small Business Administration classes and workshops that were available. Mrs. Karen Tiller who made sure I was meeting my goals, along with my nurse case manager Lt. Col. Robert Lee, who always works tirelessly to make sure my family and I are getting the care I needed along with several members of the Alpha Company."

Anderson says the support of his wife Lillian and son James have made his journey worthwhile along with surrounding yourself with the right people is a key principle that will put you on the path to success.

"My family's dedication keeps me running on all cylinders. We make a great team. It's important to find something that truly excites you and that you want to wake up every morning and go do it!" Anderson said. "Find your passion and don't let others negativity hold you back. You can truly be anything you dream."