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January 4, 2016 6:35 pm

What a US Military Veteran Learned From Serving in the IDF

avatar by Brian Mast

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US Army veteran Brian Mast.

One year later, as I reflect upon my service to Israel, I am so proud as an American to say that I have stood alongside both the defenders of the United States and the defenders of Israel. As a result of this military service, I have learned a great deal about myself, our two countries, and why we are — as I learned to say in Hebrew — brothers.

The first thing that struck me as I donned the dark green uniform of the Israeli Defense Forces, and for the first time since my own injury while serving in the US Army returned to the life of military service, was just how welcoming every IDF soldier I encountered was. Each soldier would greet me with a smile, a heartfelt thank you for coming to stand along side them, and then a sincere inquisitiveness about why this American on two prosthetic legs was back in uniform, thousands of miles from home.

At that time, all I really knew for myself was that I had decided to come and show my support for Israel because not long before, while in the vicinity of an anti-Israel demonstration in Boston, several protesters turned their aggression toward my pregnant wife and our young boys.

The aggression we experienced was a direct result of those protesters recognizing me as a US Service Member. It became immediately obvious to me just how quickly those who scorn Israel turn their hatred towards the United States. It was that moment when I decided I could no longer stand idly by, and that I had to show my support for Israel with more than words.

US war hero Brian Mast serving in Israel.

US war hero Brian Mast serving in Israel.

With each day that I served in the IDF, it became obvious to me that there is only one country in the Middle East that embodies what a peaceful Middle East must look like. It is not Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Yemen, or any other state. As an American I could only possibly want the Middle East to look like Israel.

The IDF soldiers whom I had the honor to serve with were all proud supporters of America. They identify with our mutual respect for all people, with the truth that we are all endowed with unalienable, God given rights, and with the ideals of freedom, democracy, and individual responsibility. I witnessed a fighting force that was not driven by hatred for their enemies, but rather love for their people. I stood alongside these fighters, who never ask America to come and fight their battles for them. I witnessed a creative people who adapt and overcome all challenges, who have turned a desert into a garden, and who have been among the most creative inventors to ever contribute to the world.

I learned at the Shabbat tables of my hosts just how much each family truly desires peace between every neighbor of Israel, regardless of religion or history. It is the sad reality for every family in Israel that a son or daughter will one day have to fire a weapon in defense of Israel, and possibly give their life in defense of their home. Each family I encountered only desired for their children to grow, to be educated, to travel — not to have to go to war. This is, of course, in sharp contrast to many Palestinians, who hope their children become martyrs.

As I move forward in my own life, now as a candidate for Congress here in the United States (, it is a fact that my experience of serving alongside the Israeli Army will shape my actions as a member of Congress.

Israel and the United States want the same things, and share the same goals. I will not let Israel face its enemies alone. I will work to strengthen the relationship between the United States and Israel. I will work to expand America’s security assistance to Israel, as well as our assistance to combat attacks against Israel from rockets, missiles, and tunnels. And I will work to hold accountable those like Iran and Hezbollah who actively work against peace for America and Israel. My conscience demands no less.

Brian Mast is a candidate for Congress in Florida’s 18th Congressional District, and a decorated US Army Special Operations bomb technician, who has also volunteered alongside the IDF.

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  • David Benjamin Rodas Aguayo

    G-d bless you and I know you will make a great difference.

  • Billy Ostrow

    As an American Israeli living in Israel I salute you Brian.
    As a disabled IDF Special Forces veteran (202nd Paratroopers, amputee, wounded in combat in W. Beirut 9/82), I am proud to call,you אחי (my brother).
    As a Jew, and as a American, I ask you – why did you not stay in Israel and go into politics here?
    We are in dire need of young passionate politicians here in Israel… You would have found widespread support…

    I must admit that I have no respect for the outgoing US Administration, and as an American I am ashamed. The Obama Administration has brought the world to the brink of a third World War, and they have weakened American society to a level we have not seen since the 60’s.

    I am afraid of what these incompetents will do during their remaining 12 months in power, and I do not understand why the President has not been impeached and tried for his actions. I am not confidant that the Cancer begun by Jimmy Carter, strengthened and spread by Barak Obama can still be undone by good people such a yourself. I certainly hope so. Good luck Brian.

  • avi

    I wish us all the hope that you will be successful in your run for congress .
    all the best and God bless your future.

  • May the GOD of Abraham, Issac and Jacob richly bless you and your family and thank you for your service in both armies of GOD.

  • David

    Best of the best.

  • bigO

    a decorated US Army Special Operations bomb technician,


    No such thing. Maybe he was EOD who helped out on some missions with SOF. But he ain’t no 18C and the phrasing smells fishy

    • BJM

      Correct, Brian never claimed to be an 18C, or a member of Special Forces. He was Special Operations bomb technician, who retired from the U.S.Army’s Joint Special Operations Command.

  • DP

    Sorry SSgt Brian Mast was never in the IDF, he did a volunteer program called Sar El which places you on IDF bases but at no time are you enlisted or a soldier of the IDF We thank him for his service and sacrifice.

    • BJM

      Correct, Brian tries to make sure people always know he was not an enlisted member of the IDF. He was honored to serve alongside them as a member of the Israeli military program known as Sar El.

  • Neal Best

    Thank you for protecting American citizens and for serving in the IDF and experiencing the truth about Israel, which is vastly different than how she is portrayed in the press.

    G-d bless you and your family and best of luck with your campaign.

    Neal Best

  • ilana frug

    Amazing and touching story!!! May hashem blesses you and your family in everyway and may you be successful in your path of making this world a better one!!

    All the best!

  • Brian, wishing you all the very best and hope you get elected, with Obama in the Whitehouse and the terrible prospect of Hillary becoming the next resident, Israel and the Jews need all the help they can get.

  • ben-levi

    this man is remarkable.

  • isaac

    kol hakavod, congratulations, bravo for your tenacity and thank you for your appreciations

  • isaac


  • Elias Behar

    Brian, thank you very much for your efforts toward peace. I wish you
    a great success in your nomination for the Congress in Florida and may be even further.

    All the best, Eli

  • Dan Whorton

    I pray that more Americans will learn what this young man has learned, and that he will have great success in the U.S. Congress.

  • Dr. Jeffrey Ady

    As a Christian I deeply sympathize with SSGT Mast’s affinity—no, brotherhood—with the Israeli people and their nation.

    I know…it’s easy and cheap for me to say this while living on literally the other side of the planet. Yet I know YHWH’s promises to the descendants of Abraham…and our Creator always keeps His promises.

    Ps. 33:12: Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. My deepest prayers for the peace of Jerusalem and Israel’s people! And a living revelation of the Lord to everyone, especially Sergeant Mast!

  • My heartfelt congratulations for future Congressman Brian Mast, and wishing him plenty of success in contributing to restore post-November-2016 America to its usual greatness.

  • So touched with this shared experience. May G-d bless you. This is truly the will of our Father. SHALOM

  • This is truly the will of our great Father. SHALOM!

  • stevenl

    A proud American.

  • irv whitten

    Brian Mast, you are the best of America, a true hero. I wish you success in your run for congress!

  • Z. Sasson

    You are s credit to the United States of Anerica and to all humanity. I wish you luck in spreading these truths to all of Congress about my people and my land.
    G-d bless you and your family!

  • It was refreshing to read an article written by a brave U.S. Army combat veteran, who understands the times. May his positive volunteer experiences with the IDF, guide him during his congressional career.

  • Ray McCoy

    I would love to see Brian Mast’s story written as a book
    with generous photos. It’s a fascinating story.

    I hope you win the election to Congress, Mr.Mast.

    God bless you and your family! -Ray McCoy

  • Ephraim

    You are amazing! If only the alleged leader of the US felt the same way.

  • Ron

    Bravo, Bravo !

  • Lana

    This is a good thing you did! Thank you for your service!

  • Howard Sculnick

    Bless him and good luck in the election