Through a unique government program, Veterans now have the unique opportunity to help save children from pedophiles that use the internet to lure in young victims. After spending a year in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army, Chris Beattie knows first-hand how successful it can be. He now spends his days hunting down online pedophiles.
Thanks to the program called HERO (Human Exploitation Rescue Operative), developed by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Special Operations Command in conjunction with the National Association to Protect Children, wounded veterans are trained to work in sophisticated computer forensics becoming skilled in tracking down people who prey on young children.
Beattie is one of 16 interns currently working with federal agents to find online predators. After two months of training and a 10-month internship, they can be considered for full-time employment. Beattie has been quoted as believing his time in Afghanistan had prepared him for the worst of dangers, but he has since changed his tune. Since he started with the program, he’s put 12 pedophiles behind bars.
The veterans in the program are not only heroes who served their country, but also heroes to the children they save from online predators. Many of the veterans were part of elite special ops forces that conducted daring, covert missions to take out America’s most dangerous enemies. Online predators are now the new enemy they face every day.
The U.S. is the largest producer of child pornography in the world, as well as home to the most commercial child porn websites. In addition, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which aids law enforcement in efforts to locate and rescue child victims, has reviewed more than 158 million images and videos since 1998.
In 2008 the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, identified over 300,000 different computers were used in trafficking child pornography. These eye-opening studies give veterans the drive and motivation to stop predators before they are able to hurt another child.
Now in its third year, the HERO program hopes to employ its 100th veteran this year. Once a wounded veteran has been properly trained, they can prevent as many as fifty children per year from being exploited by online predators.