The Air Force brought him from Memphis to Minot and although he retired from the military 20 years ago, he’s still serving people — just in a different way.
“We will support anyone looking for recovery,” Vern Anderson said. That’s what he does. When he says “we,” he’s referring to the support system he also turns to — Embrace North Dakota.
Embrace is an addiction/recovery support group in Minot that’s been growing since 2017.
New this year, is Bubba’s Place.
Bubba’s Place is whatever it needs to be; whether it’s for transition, recovery or safety.
“We take people where they are. We connect them with resources in the community. We don’t do therapy here, we do support,” Anderson said.
It’s a branch of Embrace and Anderson is the homeowner and house manager.
The place was named in honor of a group member who died of an overdose last year.
He was a friend of Anderson’s and his family called him Bubba.
They shared the common goal of wanting to provide a place for people who were coming out of incarceration or treatment and in need of support.
That’s the magic word — support.
It was just a few years ago that Anderson was working as a drug and alcohol counselor and was looking for youth support groups.
He brought them to Embrace meetings, and even after he left that job he continued to go for himself.
He has a master’s degree in professional counseling but would rather be in a peer support position.
He said, “All the investment I did for counseling, I gave it up to stay in my recovery.”
Anderson quit drinking when he was 14 years old and quit using drugs when he was 16.
“What caused me to use is the same thing that causes most people to use,” said Anderson. “Trauma, abuse, crisis, environmental factors. I couldn’t escape until I was 17 and joined the Air Force.”
He says he found himself in a series of cross addictions and in recent years is in recovery from co-dependency.
“Co-dependency means putting everyone else, anyone else, especially certain people above your own desires, above your own life,” he explained.
Now, he focuses on what he’s passionate about, which includes family, recovery and Bubba’s Place.
The house can have up to six residents at a time but Anderson wants to offer more beds, more help and more safety for more people.
It’s clear, though, that he’s already helped a lot.
“He will drop what he’s doing to come to help you,” said Michaela Newnam, the vice president of Bubba’s House. “He will drive you, he will pick you up. Doesn’t matter what time, day or night. He’s just a really great man.”
“He’s stepped up when he’s led meetings when I run out of gas or just need some time for myself,” said Director of EmbraceND, Heather Leier. “He’s been very influential in our approach to people. He’s just a blessing from God.”
“Vern is like, the most genuine and loving person I have ever met in my entire life. He will do anything at any given moment to make sure someone is taken care of,” Leier’s daughter and a member of EmbraceND,” Addyson Leier said.
Those are just some of the many reasons why Vernna Lee Anderson Junior is Someone You Should Know.