A former US Army Staff Sergeant who lost both legs while serving in Afghanistan is heading to Israel as a volunteer for the IDF.

Brian Mast served his country for twelve years before his catastrophic injury cut his career short. Mast, who is now a full-time student at Harvard University, said that his decision to travel to Israel was partially triggered by the anti-Israel demonstrations he saw on campus.

“This past summer I was there studying,” Mast told website Western Journalism. “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.”

american in the idf

While his soldiering abilities have been severely damaged by his injury, Mast believes that his past experiences will be of benefit to the IDF.

“I know what it is to be shot at, to be blown up – literally, to have my brothers die in my arms,” he declared. “I also know the peace my family enjoys each day within our own borders; and that same peace is what I wish on Israel. I know those I will spend my time with would in a second sacrifice themselves for their brothers and sisters to their left and right – that is not common among all people. It is for that reason I sought out service in a military capacity.”

Mast, who grew up in a Christian home in South Florida, said that his parents had impressed upon him the importance of a US alliance with Israel. He remains intensely committed, he added, to promoting “liberty and freedom from tyrannical regimes.”

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Erica Terry is Managing Editor at Jspace News. She has reported on domestic and international news, Israeli politics, features and more for Jewish publications in New York, Miami and London.