A 37-year-old Army veteran from Raleigh, N.C. who lost both legs and part of his right arm to a roadside bomb in Iraq remains in the fight. Only this time he’s hunting those who prey on children.
“I can’t be a badge carrying, gun carrying sworn agent. So this is an opportunity to work in federal law enforcement and be around those guys with similar mentalities and mission oriented people,” said Joseph, who asked that his last name not be used because it could be used against him by those he’s investigating.
The former military policeman who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq will now sit in front of a computer chasing child predators online for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
On Friday, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson swore in Joseph along with 21 other wounded veterans into the Human Exploitation Rescue Operative Corps program. The program, started in 2013, is a joint effort by ICE, U.S. Special Operations Command, the Department of Defense and the National Association to Protect Children.
The 10-month program gives veterans whose military careers were cut short by injuries a chance to continue serving the country. They’re trained as computer analysts and will embed with the Homeland Security Investigations division of ICE to assist with criminal investigations of child pornography and sexual exploitation.
Grier Weeks, executive director of the National Association to Protect Children, told the new recruits they’ll carry a heavier emotional burden fighting sexual predators online than they ever experienced in Afghanistan or Iraq.
“You’re going to be fighting an enemy who is more cruel than the Taliban and will do more damage to the homeland, to humanity, than ISIS ever could.,” Weeks said.