In a personal and detailed interview with Sam Shad of Nevada Newsmakers, Captain Sam Brown shares his passion, life story and his journey to unseat Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, giving thanks to his faith, his family, and the grassroots supporters and donors who helped him raise $1 million dollars in a few short months.
After graduating West Point in 2006, Brown was commissioned as an infantry officer and says it was an honor and responsibility to lead troops deployed in 2008 to Kandahar, Afghanistan: “One of the things that as I look back on that time– my position on our foreign policy and the way that we interact and use our military overseas has really shifted and changed a lot. You know, I’ve been on other media outlets speaking about how I don’t believe that we should continue this sort of policing the world policy and using our military for nation building, but at the time I was taught that that was a way that we ought to be using our military and counterinsurgency. Nation building was an appropriate use of that. And so that’s what I led my troops to do. And in fact, in September 2008, that’s when we were on a mission specifically to deliver turbines to a dam on the Helmand River. This was supposed to be a great humanitarian project. We were providing security for it. It was a multinational mission. And so we assisted in making sure the turbines got delivered to the dam. And then on the extraction of the forces that were delivering them is when mine and another platoon for my company was ambushed. I was the closest friendly forces maneuvering to support them and that’s where our vehicle hit an IED and blew up, killed one of my soldiers and left four of us wounded. Ultimately, I had to be Medivac’ed to San Antonio to the Army Medical Center and started a three year journey in recovery. Which was, as you can imagine a very pivotal moment in my life. Changed a lot of things… but started a whole new life.”
Captain Brown’s new life was shaped by over thirty surgeries, years of rehabilitation, and the most taxing part of it all, according to Brown, was being disfigured. “So much of our identity is tied up in our face and what we look like, and that was that was very difficult. Going through this transformation was very emotionally taxing. But I got through it. And I attribute two things to that one just this was sort of a faith journey for me in in believing that something good can come out of trials in our life. And and I had my mother spent six months with me helping me recover and then she sort of handed the baton off to someone who was a lieutenant, Amy Larsen, at the time and she was a dietitian in the burn unit and ultimately became my wife and Amy has been by my since then. We were married in May 2009, so just about nine months after I was wounded,” Brown said.
Brown says that he came out of his trauma and rehabilitation as a leader and a servant “without anyone to lead and no one to serve for while” and for a period of time was really lost, as many in the military community are as they transition into civilian life. Transitioning for Brown was a very humbling experience due to the limitations from his injuries and recovery: “At 24 before I got blown up you think you know everything in the world. You think you’re bulletproof, you’re invincible, and so to to be reduced down physically the way I was to be laying in a bed not able to feed myself or even bathe myself was a very humbling experience and and so I think one of the best lessons I took out of this was just the mindset and the sort of the life philosophy that the life I live is not my own. [This philosophy] it’s just it’s just something that was impressed in my heart as I was recovering was I should not have survived what I went through in Afghanistan. And the fact that I’m alive means I have some other purpose in life and that is to serve others and I just needed to find how to do that.”
Brown believes that his advantage to beating both Adam Laxalt in the primary and Cortez Masto in the general is that he is chosen by the people rather than by Washington DC insiders.
As to why he chose a large race for his first political candidacy is because he wants to make a real difference and sees the Senate as a place where there is a need for change on behalf of the state of Nevada and the country. Brown stated, “I think people are seeing that there can be candidates that aren’t necessarily grown up through the system, who can still represent the needs of the people and who can be strong leaders who can be effective at fundraising, and people have just attached themselves to this campaign. And when I say people have attached themselves this campaign, I mean this is a grassroots campaign. At its core. We’ve had over 12,000 donors in q3 and raised over a million dollars.”
In contrasting his policies to those of former Nevada AG Laxalt, who spent five years in the Navy and was posted at naval air bases in Italy and Iraq, Brown admits that in “broad strokes, there is not a whole lot of difference.” He maintains that where they are different is based in who is going to work hard to meet the people of Nevada and who is gonna work just as hard to represent them. “I don’t come with the sort of the attachments of special interest money that Adam has.” Brown said. “My accountability is to the people that the people who fund this campaign an average of $75 at a time. So I’m answering to the people. Adam was recruited, endorsed and funded by DC, and I’m being supported by Nevadans.”
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