Aaron Anderson greets visitors with a warm smile which belies the security measures around his home in Huntington Beach. A security sign is half hidden behind shrubs in front of the house, and a voice announces when the front door is open. This home is protected full circle.
Anderson and his partner own a security company that installs security systems all over the country. But business is not his only concern. This Special Forces veteran founded an organization that supports Green Beret soldiers and their families, the vets who have been injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Green Beret Foundation, working under the umbrella of the Army’s Special Forces, has grown and numbers among its board members retired major generals, colonels and other prominent Army officers.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised through donations and special events, with 100 percent of the profits sent to facilitate travel for families of injured soldiers in hospitals far from their homes.
“Special Ops is a cohesive group,” Anderson says. “Wives are considered Special Ops also. Green Berets marry strong women, and we empower them when their guys have been injured.”
Anderson gets emails or calls when someone is injured. The Army tracks the wounded but can’t give families the money to travel. SoCom – the Special Operations Command Coalition – advocates for the injured, coordinates charitable work and notifies the Green Beret Foundation. A check for $1,000 is ready when the injured get to Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C. Once the family is taken care of, Anderson says, the injured can relax.
He should know. In 2006 Anderson was injured when he was riding in a Humvee that set off an IED –an improvised explosive device. He lived, but his left leg was badly injured and is covered in scar tissue. After more than a dozen surgeries, there’s a hole in the bottom of his foot that doesn’t completely heal, and he walks with a limp.
His injuries haven’t slowed him down. He takes a full load of college courses with a 4.0 GPA, runs the security company with hands-on installation in businesses and private homes, and oversees the Green Beret Foundation daily. He travels often to meet with the board of directors, retired Army officers. He’s also married, and he and his wife, Alexandra, will be in San Antonio in late June for a charity gala that will benefit the foundation.
“Everything I do has a philosophy,” he says. “We’re dealing with strong personalities here, and we don’t enable. The injured have to take care of themselves. There are no free handouts. They have to do what they can.”
The foundation deals on a case-by-case basis. When families may need more than the initial $1,000, he sends the decision to his board of directors. The board includes older and experienced Army officers.
The foundation is a steward of the donors’ money, he says.
“If the foundation can’t support a family, the Special Forces Foundation will find another organization that will. No one is ever turned away.”