By: Sharon Aron Baron
A disabled U.S Army Veteran who lost both his legs in Afghanistan will be getting the keys to a custom wheelchair accessible home this weekend in a special Welcome Home Ceremony.
Located in the Watercrest Community in Parkland, the Ceremony for Staff Sgt. Brian Mast will be held on Saturday, October 18, where Grammy Award winning singer, Lee Greenwood will be on hand.
Both Standard Pacific Homes and the Helping a Hero organization worked together to design a home that meets the Mast family’s needs and allows Brian to be as independent as possible.
The ADA compliant home features spacious family gathering areas along with four bedrooms and three baths, and includes hardwood and tile floors, flush thresholds, wider hallways and wider door entries. His bathroom includes a roll in shower, roll under sink, grab bars, and a roll in shower with an elongated shower seat.
The $450,000 home will only have a mortgage for $50,000. Helping a Hero kicked in $100,000, and builder Standard Pacific Homes donated the land. The rest come from in-kind donations from subcontractors already working in the Watercrest development.
About Sgt. Brian Mast
Upon graduation from high school, Staff Sergeant Brian Mast enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves assigned to the 841st Combat Engineer Battalion in Fort Lauderdale and eventually decided to go active duty. SSG Mast served as Airborne Infantry, but found his calling as a member of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) (a bomb tech). During his tour of duty in Afghanistan in September 2010, he was injured by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) leaving him a double amputee.
“As the only EOD tech on the ground with my assault force each night it was my job to ensure that my guys made it to and from each target safe from IED’s, and render safe any other explosive hazards we may encounter. On this particular night I had spent a few minutes trying to locate the suspected IED and sweeping the area with my metal detector but was unable to find anything. I packed my tools, took one or two steps beyond the area I had searched and found the IED. I remember being blown up but when I landed I wasn’t sure if it was me that was hit or the sniper I was working closely with. Soon after however, amid a cloud of dirt and very little moonlight I could hear the chatter over my radio stating by call sign that I had been hit, that EOD was down, so I then knew it was me. As I lay there my guys applied tourniquets to both of my legs and my left arm and moved me quickly across the challenging terrain to the landing zone. A few days later I woke up at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC to a nurse asking me if I knew where I was, which I did not, and was informed I was injured and would be in surgery in a few hours.” – Staff Sgt. Mast
Mast awoke to two amputated legs just above his knees an amputated left index finger as well as extensive damage to his left hand and arm.
The first three weeks were a blur for Mast, spent mostly in surgeries and the ICU. Although he was in a lot of pain, he had never before felt so much care from his family and friends. It was non-stop with people visiting, sending cards, and making phone calls. Most days consisted of roughly eight hours of physical therapy in an effort to learn to walk on his new prosthetic legs. SSG Mast’s service and sacrifice have been recognized in a number of ways including dinner at the home of the Vice President, and in February 2011 the President and First Lady invited he and his wife to be their guests at the State of the Union Address.
In June 2012 SSG Mast retired from the U.S. Army’s Joint Special Operations Command. He honorably served his country for 12 years and has been awarded among other things, The Bronze Star Medal for Valor, The Army Commendation Medal for Valor, The Purple Heart Medal, and The Defense Meritorious Service Medal.
Staff Sgt. Mast now lives in Fort Lauderdale with his wife of 6 years, Brianna, and his 4 and 2 year old sons Magnum and Maverick…and another on the way. He just graduated from Harvard University through a program that allows him to attend classes and lectures via web conference and complete his last few hours in a two month program in Boston. He is an employee of the Department of Homeland Security and continues to pay it forward by volunteering with many non profits.
Standard Pacific homes invites the public to say thank you to this American hero for his service and sacrifice and are asking everyone to wear red, white and blue on Saturday, October 18, 10 a.m. at 8635 Watercrest Circle West Parkland, FL 33076. Look for Flags & “Wounded Hero Event” signs.
Houston based, Helping a Hero is a 501(c)(3) non profit, non-partisan organization providing support for military personnel, severely injured in the war on terror. Their principal activity is to provide specially adapted homes for qualifying service members as well as engaging the community to provide services and resources for our wounded heroes and their families. Thanks to them, over 100 severely wounded heroes from 22 states have been awarded a new adapted home. HelpingaHero.org is the 2nd largest 501(c)(3) organization building homes for our severely wounded heroes in the nation. Our home recipients sign a contract that requires them to live in the home for 10 years and take out a $50,000 mortgage (some heroes elect additional upgrades that increase this amount). Over 85 cents of every dollar goes to our hero programs and our leadership is committed to running a lean organization that includes a barebones staff of 5 who engages hundreds of volunteer leaders who serve without compensation.
Sharon Aron Baron is the Editor of Talk Media and writer for Coral Springs Talk. CST was created in 2012 to provide News, Views and Entertainment for the residents of Coral Springs, Parkland and the rest of South Florida.