Brian Mast walked in the Memorial Day parade holding an American flag, his wife and children watching from the sidelines. He remembered his fellow soldiers, brothers, who had lived, fought and died on the battlefield. Men gone to war for their country. Tears cascaded openly down his face. He felt no shame.
Brian Mast is a young man. But at age 36, he has the experience and wisdom of a man twice his age. As an Army Ranger in Afghanistan, Mast was a demolitions expert, diffusing bombs. One day, one moment was all that was necessary—an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded, leaving Mast without his lower legs. A finger on his left hand also was gone. He later woke up at Walter Reed National Medical Center in Washington D.C., his wife and baby seated nearby his bed. His thoughts: “Will I ever walk again? Will I be able to hold by child?”
He had lived and worked to defend the United States.
When a man or woman loses a limb, an emotional change occurs. Loss has occurred. Loss of limbs. Loss of abilities. Loss of health. Loss of work. Loss of identification with one’s role in life. Mentally, it is a difficult place to come out of, and often includes post traumatic stress, depression, and guilt. Guilt about those who didn’t make it back alive.
Rehab follows: learning to handle pain, maneuvering, becoming accustomed to prosthetic legs, and finally adapting to a new way of life back at home.
Brian Mast is an overcomer. He is a victor, a warrior. Mast comes from a line of military men, his father and uncles were all in the service. His purpose in life has not changed. He states, “Everyone has a purpose in life. My purpose is to defend this country.” Though he’s no longer on a tour of duty in Afghanistan, he sees Washington D.C. as his new battlefield, where change is made and voices are heard.
Coming in to the political realm from the military as a counter-terrorism specialist, Mast brings fresh new ideas for handling terrorism:
First, name the problem for what it is—radical Islam. ISIS is now a worldwide threat.
Second, security professionals need to have appropriate training and experience. “For example, TSA employees at the airports are entry-level workers. They do not have the experience that those in the military have. We should be hiring our veterans who know what to look for as TSA employee and former military canine handlers to sniff out bombs.
Brian Mast has held high-level security clearances. To work at this level he had to be polygraphed. “Why not polygraph those coming into our country?” he asks. “We can ask a person, ‘Have you ever thought about committing an act of terror in the United States?’”
Brian Mast is not the typical citizen running for election. When he speaks, he does not speak as a typical politician, but as one of the people. He is a man who nearly died, and whose service to his country he gave without gain. Yet, he still has a voice, and uses it. Mast speaks up for veterans, their healthcare, and their needs. He speaks up for the rights of Americans to defend themselves. He speaks out about his personal beliefs in God and Christian education.
Brian Mast has a degree in Environmental Science from Harvard. A clean environment is extremely important to him. As a citizen of the Treasure Coast, Mast has toured the waterways with authorities and is speaking out about the water problems and knows what can be done to fix them. He is thinking of the future. He is thinking of his own three children. He wants a clean America, without the burden of heavy taxation for them.
America, let us still do great things. Let us elect men like Brian Mast who say what they mean, and mean what they say. Men who keep their word and leave no one behind.
Brian Mast’s message to others: “If you’ve been broken down as I was, you can still be used for something great.”
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© 2016 "Hometown Heroes" Kelly Jadon