Military Veteran, Now a Congressman, Fighting Veteran Suicides
U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (R-FL) has seen, first-hand, the impact that war can have on soldiers returning home.
The military veteran served as an explosive ordnance disposal technician with the elite 28th Ordnance Company in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. On September 19, 2010, while clearing a path for United States Army Rangers in Kandahar, Mast took a wrong step into an IED along the road. The explosion resulted in the amputation of both his legs and one of his fingers
Mast is committed to doing all that he can to increase mental health resources for veterans and to reduce veteran suicide rates. To that end, he is promoting the unique idea of a pledge to combat suicide among the nation’s veterans.
Troops leaving the service could take a voluntary oath to “to preserve the values I have learned, to maintain my body and my mind, and to not bring harm to myself without speaking to my fellow veterans first.”
The “Oath of Exit” passed the U.S. House of Representatives on July 14th as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. Part of the pledge would also commit troops who are being discharged to “continue to be the keeper of my brothers- and sisters-in-arms” in addition to the United States and the Constitution.
After his injury and during his recovery, Mast’s father was the one who inspired him by telling him to ensure that the greatest service he gives to the country is still ahead of him.
After his retirement from the Army, he continued working in counter-terrorism and national defense as an Explosive Specialist with the Department of Homeland Security.
His service now continues in the political arena.
Mast is in his first term representing the 18th Congressional District of Florida.
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