Brian Mast lost both legs to an IED while serving Joint Special Operations Command as an explosives expert in Afghanistan. Military service had been a huge part of Brian’s identity and the idea of losing his purpose was devastating. However, he remembers lying in the hospital telling his wife that the best thing he did for his country couldn’t be in his past.
“I told my wife that I was going to pursue public office when I was ready,” said Brian.
The distance between his injury in 2010 and his announcement to run in 2015 was a long journey. Brian spent time recovering and moved to Florida in 2012, deciding to slowly order his life before running for office. At the same time, he didn’t want to get too complacent while recovering.
“I knew that if I only went to work when I was 100 percent I would never go back,” said Brian.
He worked toward completing his undergraduate degree while recovering. Brian is now set to begin his last semester at Harvard University.
Brian attended a Friday night dinner at the American Majority New Leaders Summit in his community in July 2013. “The biggest thing I learned at the New Leaders Summit is that you need to go out there as a pillar of your community,” said Brian.
Inspired by the training, Brian made it his goal to be a pillar of leadership in Fort Lauderdale.
“I started doing little things in the area — at least one thing a week — and that was something that reaped absolutely amazing benefits,” said Brian.
Knowing that he was a double amputee veteran, people who attended the same events as Brian were curious to hear his story and would invite him to other events — increasing his network. The men and women he met wanted to hear his story and gave him extended opportunities outside his community.
“Telling my story allowed me to meet people as Brian Mast, rather than as someone seeking office,” said Brian.
Brian declared his candidacy for U.S. Congress representing Florida’s 18th district in June. His summer is filled with campaign work: knocking on doors, meeting as many people possible, making donor calls, connecting with politicians, and engaging with people of similar interests.
His philosophy of leadership comes from his time in the military. In the video on his website, Brian mentions that the military taught him to never ask soldiers to do something he was not willing to do himself.
“That’s something in D.C. I want to change,” said Brian. “It’s about service, not only leadership. Anyone serving in the military, and especially in combat, sees the direct life and death consequences of leadership decisions.”
Brian is aware of the real consequences that policy has on the individuals and families in his state. He is passionate about legislation regarding the treatment of veterans, and foreign policy decisions involving Iran and Israel.
Running for Congress is an extension of Brian’s passion for doing what’s best for America and serving his country. “It’s simply that I’ve lost 67 close friends,” Brian said. “Everyone lost on the battlefield died because they were doing what is best for America, not for themselves. Serving with no regard to self is the only way.”