Bob Andrzejczak was a sophomore in high school when 9/11 occurred. It was then that he knew he wanted to join the military, to “fight the bad guys who attacked us.”
So he joined the Army, was deployed to Iraq and served as a sergeant in the 25th Infantry Division — until he was nearly killed by a grenade explosion. Andrzejczak was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his service, but he lost his left leg due to his injuries.
This setback hardly slowed him down, however. Andrzejczak currently serves as an assemblyman in the New Jersey legislature. He was introduced into the world of politics by Senator Jeff Van Drew, whom he met at a welcome home party thrown for him after his return from war. Senator Van Drew and his associates told Andrzejczak to reach out if he ever needed anything, and when Andrzejczak experienced difficulties getting help from the VA, he called on Van Drew, who followed through on his promise. Now, Andrzejczak uses his platform to speak up for veterans, namely to give them resources to adjust back to civilian life and counter PTSD.
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“Being a veteran in the legislature, there’s not many of us. We’re growing, but we’re a small caucus,” he says. “We’re bringing a veteran perspective to the table and voicing what the veteran population is experiencing. I feel I would be letting down veterans if I wasn’t doing everything I could to voice their issues.”
Being in the military has helped Andrzejczak see the big picture, as his time interacting with men and women from across the country widened his world view to what other states’ legislatures were doing.
“I grew up in Cape May County. My whole life was spent there,” he says. “Joining the military and literally becoming friends and brothers with different people from all over the country, from every corner you can speak of, getting to know them and how they grew up, I wanted to take the good with the bad and bring that back home with me. It really opened my eyes — showed me what we could have here in the State of New Jersey — take the best of what I learned back to New Jersey.”
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Even with his work in government and volunteering to further veterans’ rights, Andrzejczak puts a focus on family.
“Family comes first,” he says. “After serving in the military, I knew I wanted to settle down and start a family. When I was blown up, I didn’t know if I was going to live or die. When I was in Germany, they called my family and said, hop on a plane, don’t worry about passports. They were going to fly them in to say a final farewell; they thought I wasn’t going to make it. For me every day is a blessing … I want to make sure I’m there for my wife and kids and make sure I’m creating memories with them, because you never know when it could be your last day. I want them to get to experience everything.”