A group of veterans, including former Special Forces operatives, have joined together to fight a different kind of battle on the streets back home against a different kind of enemy — pedophiles.
The Hero Child Rescue Corps, is a collaborative operation of the National Association to Protect Children, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Special Operations Command to hunt down and put away pedophiles.
Injured and ill veterans receive training in computer forensics so they can join federal agents fighting against online child sexual exploitation in the Human Exploitation Rescue Operative, or HERO, program.
Veterans undergo 11 weeks of training and 10 months of on-the-ground experience where they work alongside law enforcement teams before they are placed in Homeland Security investigations field offices in the country, according to CNN.
J. Christian, CEO of the National Association to Protect Children, told CNN that many of the veterans in the program are looking for an opportunity to find a purpose in their lives now that they are back home, and the HERO Child-Rescue Corps gives them that chance.
Christian, an Army Ranger who fractured his spine during a mission in Afghanistan, said: “A lot of the individuals who come into the HERO Corps are truly individuals who have lost their mission on the battlefield.”
They have their work cut out for them. Christian said the U.S. is the largest producer of child pornography in the world.
The Demand Project reported that there are more than 747,000 registered sex offenders in the U.S., with as many as 100,000 who are not complying with their judicial supervision or missing.
The agency also reported that child pornography is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country, with a 2,500 percent increase in arrests in the past 10 years.
Army Sgt. Tom Block, who was named Army Times Soldier of the year in 2014, said that while those numbers are shocking, they give him motivation.
Block lost his right eye while serving in Afghanistan and wears a prosthetic eye with Captain America shield on it. He said it’s a symbol for standing up to bullies — especially the kind that prey on children.
“It’s an opportunity for me to go after bad guys again,” he said. “The complete scope of the crime is a lot more than people probably think.”
Take a look at a video describing what these red life heroes do:
This HERO program is awesome because it helps veterans as well as children.
These vets are making the most of it.
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