Corbett “C.B.” Anderson has devoted the past few years of his life to helping veterans in Florence and surrounding areas.
Part of the reason, he said, lies in his childhood experiences.
Anderson said he grew up poor. His father was a disabled World War II veteran who received no compensation from Veterans Affairs for many years. At times he was unable to work, which caused Anderson’s mother to have to work in sewing factories.
“I can remember times when I would overhear Mom and Dad discussing how difficult it was to pay bills and to make ends meet,” Anderson said. “We always did have some sort of food to eat, though it was not always what we wanted.”
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Anderson grew up in a family of six children. As he and his siblings grew older, Anderson said, they got jobs to help the household.
“We did not realize then how valuable this experience really was and how it would help us later in adulthood,” Anderson said. “We learned to work and to work hard for the things that we wanted.”
Anderson was drafted into the Army in 1969. He said he wasn’t happy with the way things were going in Vietnam at the time, but he went in anyway. There was no choice in the matter.
“I was in the Army, but out of basic training they sent me to Lackland Air Force Base, where they trained me to become a dog handler,” Anderson said. “And from there, they sent me to South Korea.”
While in South Korea, Anderson served part of the time as a dog handler and other times as a military police officer.
“I was drafted, and I went and did what I had to do and got out,” he said. “I was in two years.”
Anderson is now the founder and executive director of the Veterans Resource Center of Florence and the Frank Dunlap Foundation. He has organized two Stand Down operations in Florence to provide multiple services to homeless and at-risk veterans at one site. He also participates with the First Friday Homeless Connect event held at Lighthouse Ministries and holds positions in several other veterans organizations.
Nowadays, Anderson spends a large amount of time working at the Veterans Resource Center. The center is housed at Lighthouse Ministries and is open four days a week from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The purpose of the center is to maximize the Pee Dee’s full potential for the benefit of military veterans.
“We want to be more of a referral source, because we do know where resources are and who to talk to and their phone number and addresses,” Anderson said. “But at the same time, we do have funding where we can assist with past due utilities or rent, just many different things.”
The Frank Dunlap Foundation provides military uniforms to dying veterans or to the families of deceased veterans if they knew their loved one wanted to be buried in a uniform and didn’t have one.
Over the years, Anderson has worked with many people representing different agencies. Ron Murphy, a psychology professor at Francis Marion University is one of them.
“He’s just an amazing person, a local boy,” Murphy said. “He’s someone who’s doing this not as part of a job. This is a guy who’s basically on his own and came up with all of the projects.”
Murphy said Anderson is the best person in Florence for dealing with homeless veterans.
Cecilia Meggs, executive director of Lighthouse Ministries, said she has worked with Anderson since 2010, and he is passionate about what he does.
“His goal is to assist any veteran and give them the resources that they may not be aware of that they’re eligible for,” Meggs said. “He’s a very good advocate for that. If he can’t help them, or he doesn’t have the resources, he goes above and beyond.”
Because he did not go to combat, Anderson said, he believes there’s something extra he should be doing to help veterans, and he chooses to serve by helping veterans who are going through hard times.
“But it’s got great rewards associated with it, too, that you can only feel in your heart, and it’s not visual rewards,” Anderson said. “Sometimes it is … but the biggest reward is coming from your heart.”