By D. Bender
A 12-year US Army Special Operations veteran who was severely wounded by an IED blast during his service in Afghanistan is now in Israel to help the IDF as part of a volunteer project, and to show support for the Jewish State, the Israeli 0404 News site reported.
Brian Mast, who lost both legs and sustained other injuries in an attack in July 2010, arrived on Jan. 10 as a Sar-El program volunteer. The group’s itinerary includes logistics and maintenance work on bases, hikes and field trips around the country, and seminars on Israel and Jewish life.
Mast is volunteering at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv as part of his two-week experience, according to the group.
The 34-year-old Ft. Lauderdale resident, a married father of two, told the news site that “having met IDF soldiers in my military travels throughout my years in service, and having grown up in a Christian home,” along with his experiences among south Florida’s Jewish population, helped form his pro-Israel worldview.
“…it was always proudly touted by my parents what great allies the US and Israel have been, and simply making myself aware of current and modern historical events all played a role in me wanting to find a meaningful way to show my own support for Israel in a time when so many are forgetting that you are our true friend in the region, that you are in defense of attack and not the aggressor,” Mast said.
Mast, a student at Harvard, said anti-Israel demonstrations on campus during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza helped convince him to make the three-week visit to the Jewish State.
“This past summer I was there studying,” he said. “At the same time, I saw the anti-Israeli protest in the face of the attempted indiscriminate bombardment of Israel. It was then that I decided I needed to find a way to go help however I can and however [Israel] would have me.”
Mast said he’s here to “get the most truthful assessment of what the daily hazards of life are as compared to someone on a sightseeing vacation,” and added that he will “learn the threats faced every day from the firsthand accounts of those who defend against them each day.”