Video: Afghan vet Brian Mast announces for FL-18

Marco Rubio’s decision to run for the presidency has opened up Florida’s electoral map. His open Senate seat has enticed Rep. Patrick Murphy, the Democrat representing the 18th Congressional District, into running for the Democratic nomination with the DSCC’s blessing. He’ll square off against Alan Grayson for the seat, assuming the Democratic establishment doesn’t chase Grayson out of the race.

That leaves FL-18 open, and gives Republicans an excellent opportunity for a pickup. The South Florida coastal district has a Cook rating of R+3, and without a Democratic incumbent to hold it, the district may serve as a bellwether of sorts for the GOP’s potential success in the entire state. Former Army Ranger and veteran of Afghanistan Brian Mast has announced this morning that he will seek the Republican nomination for Congress in this district — less than five years after losing both of his legs in Afghanistan:

While on his last deployment in Afghanistan, Mast was tasked with protecting his brothers from IED’s on a nightly basis. While he was able to detect and destroy most of these IED’s, the very last IED Mast found resulted in him sustaining catastrophic injuries, which included the loss of both his legs.

As a result of his service and sacrifice to our country, Mast was been awarded medals for Valor, Merit, and Sacrifice, to include The Bronze Star Medal, The Army Commendation Medal for Valor, The Purple Heart Medal, and The Defense Meritorious Service Medal.

While recovering from his injuries at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C., Mast’s focus was singular: get better and get back to serving America, which is exactly what he did.  Each day for him consisted of 8 hours of grueling physical therapy, after which he would also provide his requested expertise to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms (ATF), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), all on top of his ongoing military duties.

Mast recently donned an army uniform again in a show of support for the nation of Israel and the freedom it represents in the Middle East and around the world, as he volunteered with the Israeli Defensive Forces (IDF).

For me, showing support for what I believe is not writing a post on Facebook. It is giving of my own sweat, my own blood, and my own tears in the most right and worthy causes I can find” – SSGT Brian Mast (Ret)

While Brian answered the call to serve when he enlisted in the U.S. Army, pledging his life in defense of our country, he is now answering the call to serve his fellow Americans once again, this time as a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Florida’s 18th congressional district.

Last night, I spoke with Brian at some length. Mast disagrees that the US has brought two wars to an end, and worries that the US may be at more risk than ever. We discussed the scandal of veteran care at the VA, including the recent exposure of the overmedication problem there. Brian has seen these problems firsthand, and believes that America owes its veterans choice in medical care in order to ensure that they get the best. Mast didn’t just stick to these two issues, but also talked about his borders-first policy on immigration, and his support for a flat tax. Mast is more than a one-dimensional conservative, on top of which he’s engaging, relaxed, and enthusiastic.

The interview has some technical issues in the beginning which cut off the first few seconds of the interview, and created other problems in the first three minutes. After that, it’s clear as a bell.

The Mast for Congress website can be found here, and Brian’s official Twitter account here.