NFM Lending is pleased to honor Captain Matt Anderson, USA, Retired, as the NFM Salute for April 2022.
Anderson’s family has a military legacy: his grandfathers served during WWII, and his uncle was a Marine during the Vietnam War. Despite never intending to join the armed forces himself, Anderson enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2005, only one semester away from completing his college degree. He recalled the moment he realized he wanted to serve, saying, “I certainly didn’t have to join, but as a freshman in college, I walked into my physiology class, and we watched the [Twin] Towers fall on 9/11.” By his senior year of college, the war in Iraq was still building and he chose to enlist in the infantry. “I just really wanted to do my part. I was a good athlete and smart. I thought it was the right thing to do.”
He deployed to Kirkuk Province, Iraq, where he spent 15 months as part of a sniper and reconnaissance platoon. Anderson quickly proved himself to be a dependable teammate and was promoted rapidly. He and his platoon conducted over 425 combat missions and raids that directly targeted Al-Qaeda leadership, freeing two nearby cities and the local population from their oppression. Anderson attributes his recon platoon with forming him into the soldier, non-commissioned officer, officer, and man he is today.
For his second tour of duty, Anderson deployed to the Arghandab River Valley in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan. By this time, he had been commissioned as an officer and was an Infantry platoon leader, responsible for planning operations, humanitarian aid, local leader engagements, logistics, and managing 31 soldiers. The Arghandab River Valley was one of the most dangerous locations in Afghanistan in 2010. His platoon of 31 had 14 wounded in the first 20 days of combat. His command praised his ability to keep his men motivated and in good spirits, despite the conditions they found themselves in.
A few months into their deployment, on October 10, 2010, Anderson and a squad from his platoon conducted a reconnaissance and surveillance patrol in a deserted town along the Arghandab River. The Taliban had forced everyone that lived there to leave, and it was known to have been mined extensively. While getting his men ready to move back to their base he stepped on a landmine. The blast threw him against a wall and shattered his right foot and lower leg bones. Later in that same compound, his minesweeper and another soldier were similarly wounded by landmines. Though Anderson did not lose the leg due to the blast injury, he incurred extensive bone, nerve, and muscle damage. He went to Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, TX, for treatment, where he underwent 24 surgeries and 13 months of rehabilitation.
During his recovery period, Anderson tried to keep his and his fellow patients’ spirits up by challenging them and building an encouraging environment. He wanted to return to active duty and get back in the fight. The desire to continue his service motivated him to work even harder during physical therapy and finish the last semester of his degree. Part of his rehabilitation involved teaching other wounded service members to play golf. He knew that the focus and peace of mind it brought could be highly beneficial to the soldiers during their rehab, and it also led Anderson to fall in love with the game. Two years after being wounded, he was promoted to Captain and was able to walk and exercise with the help of a carbon fiber leg brace.
In early 2014, Anderson completed a brief, final deployment to Afghanistan, medically retiring soon after. Anderson received a Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and Meritorious Service Medal for his bravery and injuries sustained in his nine-year military career.
Since retiring, he has worked in the private sector for various government contractors. Even as a civilian, Anderson continues to aid and advocate for fellow wounded service members. He serves as a Consumer Advocate for the Peer Reviewed Orthopedic Research Program (PRORP), which uses Congressional funding to advance orthopedic research for injured military members. His experience and contributions will improve surgical outcomes and rehabilitation for current and future warfighters that sustain combat injuries.
He now shares his passion for playing golf with other wounded Veterans through his involvement with the Salute Military Golf Association (SMGA). As an SMGA Board Member and program mentor, he enjoys seeing Veterans’ faces light up when they make progress during a round. “Many guys need a new way of finding peace, a new sport, or something that gets them out of the house,” he explained. “Being out in blue skies, on green grass, getting away for a few hours with a couple of friends, can do a lot for you. It’s as good for you mentally as it is physically.”
Captain Anderson lives in Richmond, Virginia, with his wife, Nikki, and their daughter. He has made volunteering a core part of his life. He gives his time to several charitable causes benefiting military Veterans. “I’ve always wanted to keep my weekends open and maybe a day during the week where I can still volunteer and help out with other military and Veteran-focused organizations.”