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Chester native Lillian Anderson is a veteran who is making a difference.

— Submitted Photo

Lillian Anderson is a veteran who is making a huge difference in her community as well as professionally. She grew up in Chester and after she graduated from high school, she wanted to go to college but didn’t have a way to pay for it. So, she tagged along with a friend who was meeting with a military recruiter.

Anderson joined, her friend did not.

She became a member of the U.S. Army Reserves and went to basic training and was eventually deployed to Iraq in 2004, six months before her contract expired. Without any prior training, Anderson stepped into a Supply Sergeant position in charge of a warehouse, with nearly 20 people reporting to her.

“In Iraq, I was responsible for ordering and managing everything from paper clips to aircraft parts and making sure U.S. service members all over Iraq had what they needed when they needed it,” explained Anderson. “That experience gave me the instinct to figure things out and search for ways to take ownership of projects.”

When Anderson returned to civilian life, she wanted to find a culture that felt right for her. An employment report by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs found that 53 percent of post-9/11 veterans will face unemployment. Another demographic analysis showed that nearly 18 percent of post-9/11 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are women — with more than a quarter of those women Black, almost twice the proportion found in the entire U.S. population.

Now 36, Anderson was able to carve out a successful path for herself. She enrolled at Temple University and started working at Power Home Remodeling Group part time after she learned about the company in a local paper. When a full-time position became available, she took it.

Today, Anderson has a decade with the company as the purchasing agent and is a shining example of the Power Veteran Initiative opportunity that hires and retain both active duty service members as well as Reserves and National Guard members.

“Veterans aren’t short of problems, and the military veteran community refuses to be defined by their issues, but more importantly how they respond to their issues when the return to the civilian work force,” said Michael Hansen, 31, Power’s director of Veteran Affairs. “Our biggest goal is sharing the stories of success within that civilian community to increase the belief systems of all of the veterans out there that might be suicidal, have despair. By doing that, we are creating a model that will be able to show other businesses around the country of how to build a flourishing veterans program that will move the needle forward as we approach an ever-challenging working environment.”

Anderson said she has found balance and a “family” at Power. “Power feels like home, like family,” said Anderson. “The people you meet here aren’t just coworkers — they’re willing to help you and support you when you need it.”

Anderson has forged deep friendships with her Power coworkers, and when she got married earlier this year, there was a table of Power colleagues in attendance.

“From the beginning, everyone at Power has been very friendly and no one made me feel small or insignificant,” said Anderson. “I learned that Power is the kind of place where everyone is willing to make time to speak with you, to listen to you or to help you out when you’re struggling.”

For more information about veteran employment opportunities at Power Home Remodeling Group, visit workatpower.com.

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