Injured soldier finds purpose inspiring others, building American flags
A local soldier who lost his legs during an explosion hopes to inspire others with the story of how he recovered from his injuries and found purpose.
Andrew Smith was in the 82nd Airborne Division and served in Afghanistan in 2012. He was wounded 18 days into his deployment when he stepped on an IED and lost both legs. In an instant, Smith’s life changed forever.
He spent 22-months recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. His wife, Tori, was by his side the entire time.
“Learning how to walk, dealing with all of the internal injuries, it was extremely tough and there were times of doubt. What would happen in the future? It definitely made both of us stronger, definitely our faith in the Lord stronger,” Smith told Channel 3.
The experience changed Smith’s body but not his spirit.
“I was injured so early on in my deployment and then quickly had to figure out what to do with my life now that I couldn't serve anymore,” said Smith.
Soon, an idea for a new business was born.
Smith had a passion for woodworking. He’d taken a class in high school and so he decided to start Riser Burn Woodcrafts.
He found new perspective and hope in his workshop.
“I served my country. I was willing to die for my country and so I love our flag and so I just wanted to build one and it's turned into me getting to build them for people all over the country which is a real pleasure,” Smith told Channel 3.
He sells beautifully handcrafted flags, big and small.
“I ship flags all over the country to a lot of other veterans, people in the military, law enforcement and families of people who serve so it’s a real honor to be able to build these flags,” said Smith.
He also makes coin displays, pens, cheese boards, cutting boards and wine displays.
Smith says what happened to him was a “blessing in disguise” and he wouldn’t change anything about his experience.
“I think you go through things for a reason. They make you stronger if you take the experiences and learn from them. I’m happy to be back home, doing what I love. I hope it inspires people to do what they love and get excited about life and do the best that they can for their families and themselves,” said Smith.
To purchase products handcrafted by Smith, click here to visit his website.