U.S. veteran stands out as Israeli hero

Countless numbers of Jews and Christians travel each year from around the globe to volunteer to join the Israel Defense Forces. Among them, a U.S. veteran is standing out as a hero.

CBN News reported Brian Mast was serving as a U.S. Army bomb disposal expert in Afghanistan when a hidden explosive device took his legs. However, his injury could not stop him from volunteering for the IDF.

“I saw a need in my own country to show support for Israel and so I did it,” he said.

Having grown frustrated over the criticism coming from the media and world leaders during last year’s fighting in the Gaza Strip, Mast said as a solider he could not agree with disparagement as Israel was only defending itself. The conflict, he said, lit a fire under him and he wanted to come and help.

“If any of our neighbors, whether it be Canada or Cuba or Mexico, were firing rockets into the United States, guys like me or guys that I served with or anybody else in our military, we would be in those locations immediately to destroy those enemies so that they would never have the capability to be able to do that again,” Mast explained.

“Coming from a soldier’s background, I spent 12 years in the service, I wanted to find a way to do that militarily,” he explained.

Mast wanted to find a way to support the effort so he came to Israel through a program called Sar-El. The organization brings volunteers from all over the world to help the IDF.

“We’re packaging narcotics that could be used, like morphine,” Mast said as he and other volunteers assembled medical kits for soldiers in the field. “We’re packaging tourniquets. We’re packaging IVs. These are all things that combat medics carry with them. I myself had three tourniquets placed on me when I was injured, and these are the kind of stuff that they need.”

Israel Geva, Head of Sar-El, explained that the organization was established to help people from other countries do things worthwhile for Israel. “Sar-El is an organization that exists already for 33 years. It was created to give an opportunity to, first of all to the Jewish people around the world and to give a hand to Israel,” Geva said.

According to CDN, since its conception, more than 160,000 volunteers have served through the Sar-El program. Now, about 25 percent of those volunteers are Christians.

Mast was raised in a Christian home that supported Israel. He has learned while volunteering that Israel is America’s brother and greatest ally in the region. It is a message he wants to take home.

“One of the terms I’ve learned since being here is “achim,” the term brothers. I think that we in the U.S. and those here in Israel, I think we are brothers. We’re brothers because we have the same hope and the same desire for the future. We want to see freedom,” Mast said.

Lea Calderoni, a liaison between the IDF base and the volunteers, said Brian has been a big hit on the base. “I think for all the soldiers who are here and on the base, it’s an inspiration. He’s sort of a hero also in Israel,” she said.

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