June 20th, 2015 11:44 EST
Wounded Vets Join Fight Against Child Exploitation
By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
A group of 22 wounded veterans are applying their skills in the fight against child exploitation, Laura Junor, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness said here today.
At the Department of Homeland Security`s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Headquarters, Junor addressed the veterans, who`ve joined the Human Exploitation Rescue Operative Child-Rescue Corps program, and completed the first phase of their one year of training.
The HERO Corps program recruits and trains wounded, ill and injured active-duty service members, transitioning troops and veterans for jobs with law enforcement in child exploitation investigations, child victim identification, traveling child sex offenders, and digital forensics, officials said.
You are bright, dedicated, and I have never seen a group more persistent at achieving an objective, Junor told the veterans. And you carry that with you. That is not the uniform you wear. That`s who you are. "
The HERO Child-Rescue Corps is a program developed by ICE`s Homeland Security Investigations and DoD`s U.S. Special Operations Command, in conjunction with the National Association to Protect Children, according to the program`s website. The program is supported by partners such as the Wounded Warrior Project.
DoD Partners With HERO
The 22 veterans -- 19 men and three women -- of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and National Guard from across the nation served in Iraq and Afghanistan doing the work of infantrymen, tankers, military police, mechanic and engineers.
Today`s class became the first to graduate from 11 weeks of training since the HERO Act was passed under the 2015 Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, which President Barack Obama signed into law May 29, officials said.
The graduates will serve in Homeland Security Investigations field offices across the county for 10 months to train with and assist special agents with criminal investigations to conduct computer forensic exams, assist in criminal investigations and help identify and rescue child victims, officials said.
Junor told the audience of graduates, families, and senior military and civilian leaders that she`s responsible for 3 million military and civilian personnel.
What that means is I`ve met a lot of you, " she said, and while I don`t know each of [the graduates], I was a military kid, military spouse and in the last 20 years I know how special the military is to us. "
Junor thanked the graduates and added that as a defense leader and mother of two girls, I am in awe of you. "
Praising Wounded Warriors
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, former DoD general counsel, recalls how he was always impressed with the wounded warriors he met -- some wounded only 24 to 48 hours prior, he said.
Their first reaction, sometimes just coming out of an unconscious state was, "How do I get back to my unit " and get back in the fight?` " he said.
That`s usually the character of our wounded warriors today. And that strength and character is what we see in the 22 graduates today, " Johnson said.
Johnson administered the oath of office and presented training certificates to each of the veterans.
So, do great stuff, " Junor told the class. This is a tough job. Take care of each other and take care of yourselves. "
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)
Photo Credit: Wikipedia