30 July 2014

Special Forces Fighting Against Child Pornography


Many Americans have their attention on the southern border, as states like Texas turn to the National Guard to stem the uncontrolled flow of illegal immigrants across the border. The situation is volatile and escalating quickly. What many don’t know is that there is another battle raging within the United States, and America’s deadliest special forces troops are answering the call.  

Oscar Zepeda deployed nine different times as an Army Ranger, but was seriously wounded battling the Taliban in Afghanistan on September 8, 2011. He cleared a house when one of the occupants pulled the pin of a grenade and tossed it in Zepeda’s direction. He awoke three days later in a German army hospital, where he went through dozens of subsequent surgeries to repair the damage. 

In the face of massive trauma to his legs and arms, he pressed forward and dedicated himself to another battle: child pornography. He became a part of a joint effort called HERO, which stands for the Human Exploitation Rescue Operative It was formed by U.S. Immigration and Customs, Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Special Operations Command in conjunction to the National Association to Protect Children.   

Law enforcement recognizes how valuable Special Forces training, team skills, and combat backgrounds are in the fight against child pornography, a problem that extends into every state in the U.S. HERO is designed for wounded, injured, and ill SpecOps troops to receive high-tech computer forensic training and law enforcement skills to assist Federal Law Enforcement officers in the fight against child pornography. 

These soldiers are not only highly trained, but they are also highly motivated. They sought out an opportunity post-service that would give them a purpose similar to what they had during their time in the military.

When asked about his new job, Zepeda said, “It gives me a lot of satisfaction knowing I am here and still serving my country. And I am happy. I am happy I am doing this kind of work.”

One of the HERO operatives, Shannon Kreiger, captured the spirit of her work: “This is the new fight I could sink my teeth into. This is what I was really looking for. I wasn’t just going to take a job so I could have a paycheck.”

What do you think of this example of repurposing military skills in the civilian sector? What are other unique positions that can maximize service members' skills?

Weigh in on a discussion on transition here and connect within the military community.

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