EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) - When Garrett Anderson returned home from the marines in 2004, he had no idea what he was about to face.
Within weeks of his return home, Anderson found himself physically there - but mentally still overseas - leaving him in deep post-traumatic stress disorder.
"I thought I was just coming back normal,” said Anderson. “I was really oblivious I needed help whatsoever.”
Anderson, who now lives in Portland, told NewsSource 16 he knew something was wrong when he survived an attempted suicide.
"I was problem drinking every night really bad. I’d sit down and I’d watch YouTube videos of Iraw blowing up and stuff. All night. I couldn’t go to bed and the insomnia became a problem.”
With that, Anderson asked himself one question.
“I asked myself did this happen to anyone else I served with,” he admitted.
Anderson found an outlet to share his experiences with other soldiers and civilians by starting a blog.
He also wrote a book about it. He is just one of hundreds of thousands of soldiers who return from war with some form of PTSD.
“I never thought it could happen to me because I thought I was in control of myself,” he said.
Anderson said his combat crew’s mission was to clear out houses and look for terrorists and threats to the United States. As they did that countless times, countless times those soldiers were also injured; countless times, they lost close friends in battle.
“These are normal people. These are people you work with next to everyday and you don’t even know these guys were in the service,” Anderson said.
Anderson compared transitioning from the marines to everyday life as being an ‘alien in a uniform’ – one that doesn’t really relate to every one else – until home from war. Then, those same individuals are expected to live every day as though nothing irregular happened even though it did.
As if the service and PTSD wasn’t enough for Anderson, he is now reliving war by making a documentary called “And Then They Came Home.” The documentary will reenact one day overseas showing exactly what he and his combat crew went through every day for months at a time.
From the documentary, Anderson hopes to show civilians why the transition home is so tough and why it’s so important to care about those soldiers. The timing is relevant, as the remaining soldiers overseas have recently been called home by President Barack Obama.
“We need people to care about us because it’s the right thing to do,” explained Anderson.
He and his combat crew took lots of video, something Anderson said they did differently than a lot of other people. With the hours and hours of footage they have, Anderson and the rest of the marines who are more like brothers hope to show exactly what they saw and how they saw it. Why do some soldiers come home with PTSD and others don’t?
“With this documentary, you’re getting first person point-of-view from a guy who’s on the ground sometimes in a fire fight,” he said.
While Anderson is a bit more open than a lot of other soldiers about what he’s seen and what he’s been through, he said he understands why not everybody can do the same thing. Talking about war and the transition home is something that depends on each soldier and how he or she wants to deal with it. Yet, he said, it’s important to seek help if it’s needed.
“Support is so important; family and friends are so important” he said.
The documentary, expected to be done and available for viewing in December, needs help in its funding. To donate, you can go to their Kickstart page.
So far, Anderson has raised more than $9,000 dollars. He needs $30,000 dollars by March 16th to be able to make the documentary.
The first 50 KMTR viewers to sign up to the donation page get a special credit.