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It’s about helping Wounded Warriors

Local veteran works to raise funds

Tony Anderson, national vice president of the Order of Sons and Daughters of Italy in America, is leading a local effort to raise funds to provide a retrofitted van for a Wounded Warrior. Photo Credit: Courtesy image

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Tony Anderson's life is about helping others.

"When I was growing up, I learned that it was good to help other people," the native of Tacoma and former Marine began. "I've never forgotten the people who helped me and my mom."

Retired from the Washington State Department of Agriculture, he has volunteered his time and energy to Bates Technical College, the Tacoma Dome Bond Committee, the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound, the Tacoma Athletic Commission, the Sister Cities of Tacoma-Pierce County, the USO at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and many other organizations.

But it is his personal and ancestral connection to and involvement with the Order of Sons and Daughters of Italy in America (OSDIA) that characterizes his commitment to those who serve in the military. Anderson has been a member since 1987 and has served for four years as the order's national financial secretary. Currently, he is in the third year as the national vice president.

"It is the largest and oldest national organization for men and women of Italian heritage in the United States," explained Anderson. "Our mission includes encouraging the study of the Italian language and culture in America, preserving Italian-American traditions, and promoting closer cultural relations between the United States and Italy."

Underlying those traditions is helping others, and for the past decade the OSDIA's National Foundation raised funds to retrofit a van and presented it to a Wounded Warrior during the order's annual convention in Washington D.C. 

This year's convention will be held at the Reagan Center on May 23. The veteran selected will have met the following criteria:

  • Grants are offered to both active duty service members and veterans of all branches of the United States Armed Forces, and to veterans of all conflicts and wars.
  • All candidates must have medical need of, and VA/DoD approval and prescription for a ramp or lift-entry vehicle.
  • All wounds, injuries, and/or illnesses must be deemed 100% "Service Connected," although they need not be combat related.
  • All candidates must have qualified for their VA-4502, a one-time vehicle grant.
  • All candidates must have at least one VA-1394 Vehicle Modification grant slot available.
  • Grants are for wheelchair accessible minivans and SUV's. Exceptions can be made for full-sized vans if the candidate is not suitable for a smaller minivan or UV. The grants do not apply to trucks, sedans or recreational vehicles.

Familiar with what occurs on the national level, Andeson is now working to replicate the process for the Joint Base Lewis-McChord community.

"If we have someone who meets the criteria laid out, we want to provide a van to a local veteran," he added, "but we need to raise $20,000." He added that the local OSDIA is looking for veterans who meet the above qualifications.

"I remember learning this motto when I was about 10 or 11 years old," concluded Anderson. "And it is: ‘Anything we accomplish in life is never accomplished alone but together.' It's about soldiers helping soldiers."

To donate, a PayPal account can be found at

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