Vol. 53, No. 5

In this edition

This edition of the Forum is a small tribute to the men and women who put their lives on the line in defense of our freedom, and thanking those heroes this Veterans Day.

Let History Guide Us on Veterans Day

The price of freedom is never free. That is the lesson today’s Veterans continue to teach us.

Service, Sacrifice, and a Sacred Duty

Veterans Day is our national holiday to honor the sacrifice of our veterans and to celebrate their bravery and skill. 

“I’ll Never Forget My Time in Military Service.”

The VA should absolutely be held accountable for how they help care for our veterans, and I’m continuing to press them on that issue.

More Than a Day of Remembrance, Veterans Day is a Call to Action.

I am humbled daily by the sacrifice that countless men, women, and families endure on behalf of a grateful nation.

“It Takes a Special Person to Take Up Arms in Defense of Our Country.”

As a Marine, I swore to always remain faithful to those serving by my side.

“We Will Always Need Defenders, and We Will Always Protect Them.”

I am a firm believer that we must honor the commitments we’ve made to our veterans – those who place themselves in harm’s way to defend our values and way of life.

“Their Willingness to Protect this Country Shall Never be Forgotten.”

Their willingness to protect this country shall never be forgotten, and I want our Veterans to know their service and patriotism is very much appreciated.

“Service is Always Greater than Self.”

Outside of becoming a father and grandfather, having the unique opportunity to lead Marines in the fight has always been the proudest moment in my life.

“Never Forget”

Let’s get back to the things that defined America for generations: love of country, patriotism, optimism, and a deep appreciation of our veterans of past and present.

“We must Ensure Our Veterans Know that They are Not Alone.”

As we evaluate how best to help our veterans in the 21st century, I believe community is key.

“Every Service Member is United in Their Choice to Put Service Before Self.”

I became a bomb technician because I wanted to save lives and serve a cause greater than myself.

“We will Remain Always Faithful.”

Semper Fidelis is not just a slogan or creed; it is a way of life that only those who have earned the Eagle, Globe and Anchor can fully understand.

“It is Essential that We Take Care of Those Who Took Care of Us.”

Our country has sent generations of heroes to defend our freedom. It is essential that we take care of those who took care of us.

“Be Grateful for the Many Sacrifices that Keep Us Free.”

It is only with age that I have come to realize and truly understand the significance of the sacrifices that veterans made.

“To All of Our Nation’s Veterans, We Thank You”

My experience in uniform has taught me that focusing on a mission makes it harder to be distracted by other things.

“Let Us Never Forget Those Who Willingly Step Forward to Shoulder the Duty.”

We each benefit from the sacrifices of those who put their lives on the line to defend the freedom, peace, and prosperity we enjoy as a country.

“America Has Been a Shining Example of Freedom Because of Those Who Serve Her in Uniform.”

America has been a shining example of freedom because of those who serve her in uniform. To my fellow veterans, thank you and God bless you and your families!

“Every Service Member is United in Their Choice to Put Service Before Self.”

Staff Sergeant Brian Mast

The most important and unregrettable time of my life was the 12 years I spent in the Army. I became a bomb technician because I wanted to save lives and serve a cause greater than myself. I nearly gave my own life for that — I lost both my legs and a finger when a roadside bomb detonated beneath me — and have known more heroes than I can count who died defending others.

I remember the day I was injured — September 19, 2010 — very clearly. What I remember most, though, isn’t the bomb detonating. Instead, it’s hearing my fellow soldiers yelling “EOD is hit, EOD is hit.” I remember them rushing to my side, I remember seeing the world go by horizontally as they carried my stretcher across the terrain to load me onto a helicopter, and I remember them rendering me one final salute as the helicopter took off. Their selfless acts of courage are the only reason that I am still here today.

Then, I remember nothing until I woke up days later after numerous surgeries, which included amputating both of my legs and stitching my hand to my chest to prevent further damage. Despite all this, when I arrived at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., I was surrounded by men and women who were significantly more grievously wounded than myself. Nonetheless, they pushed me every day to be the best version of myself and demonstrated a remarkable resolve that inspires me to this day.

I became a bomb technician because I wanted to save lives and serve a cause greater than myself.

Each Veterans Day, I think of these men and women — heroes like Marine vet Rob Jones, who after losing both of his legs, ran 31 marathons in 31 days to raise money for veterans’ charities and is now running to continue his service to our country by representing Virginia’s 10th Congressional District.  I also think of the many amazing health care professionals who helped piece us back together.

It’s for these veterans — and the many great nurses, doctors, and other health care professionals who serve them — that I have dedicated my time in Congress to fixing the issues that still plague our veterans health system.  That’s why I opened the first-ever Congressional office inside a VA hospital to help veterans when and where they need it most. Since opening in 2017, our office has helped more than 500 veterans at the West Palm Beach VA resolve issues like disability claims and benefits appeals when they had nowhere else to turn.

I believe every single Member of Congress should be able to do the same at their local VA, which is why I introduced the Improving Veterans Access to Congressional Services Act to pave the way to make that high level of service a reality for veterans all across the country. By cutting down on bureaucracy, we can fix these problems and ensure that future generations of servicemen and women are not burdened with the same challenges facing today’s veterans.

The bottom line is that we can and must do more to support our nation’s veterans.  So, on Veterans Day, please join me in recognizing our neighbors who had the fortitude to put on the uniform and dedicate their life to serving our country. By swearing the oath, donning the uniform, and offering to give the last beat of their heart, every service member is united in their choice to put service before self and commit their life to a larger cause.

The very least we can do is to return that commitment.

Brian Mast represents the 18th District of Florida in the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Mast served in the U.S. Army for more than 12 years, earning medals including The Bronze Star Medal, The Army Commendation Medal for Valor, The Purple Heart Medal, and The Defense Meritorious Service Medal.