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February 17, 2009 — Anderson joined the U.S. Army in January 2003 to get money for college and to serve his country. He later served in Iraq with the US Army's 1st Armored Division. He was awarded a Purple Heart after being injured by shrapnel in a roadside bombing in April 2004. His injuries were sufficient that he was rotated back to the United States early after serving only seven of the normal twelve months. Facing the prospect of a second deployment to Iraq, Anderson deserted and fled to Canada, where he joined the War Resisters Support Campaign and became a vocal anti-war activist in Toronto.
He later told The Globe and Mail that he had become disillusioned with the war when he was ordered to execute a family of four in Baghdad. Anderson said, "I went to Iraq willingly... I wanted to die for my country. I thought I was going to go there and protect my family back home. All I was doing was killing other families there."
Anderson spent nearly two years in Canada where he unsuccessfully applied for political refugee status and was unable to obtain a work permit despite being one of about a dozen or so who have fled to Canada and sought the assistance of Toronto attorney Jeffry House, who is representing them. House himself is a Vietnam-era draft evader. On September 24, 2006, Anderson told reporters he had decided to return to the US to face military authorities. He criticized Canada for its involvement in Afghanistan. "I'm very critical of Canada.
They're in Afghanistan doing the same things. The war on terror is all part of the wrong war," he said. On October 3, 2006, Anderson surrendered himself to US authorities at Fort Knox Army base in Kentucky. He was accompanied by his mother, Anita Anderson; and his stepfather, Steve Dennis. His mother has claimed that the military only cured his physical injuries and that he was not given adequate psychological counseling for the emotional trauma he received in the war, a claim that Anderson has reasserted himself. Anderson's lawyer, Jim Fennerty, said that under the terms of his surrender, Anderson will receive a less-than-honorable discharge from the Army, but won't receive a prison sentence or face a court martial. Fennerty claimed the military would process Anderson and release him within five days.