Chris Beattie spent a year in Afghanistan with the United States Army. He now spends his days hunting down pedophiles that use the internet to prey on young children. After serving in Afghanistan Beattie became a HERO, both metaphorically and literally.
HERO stands for “Human Exploitation Rescue Operative.” The HERO Child-Rescue Corps program was developed by Immigration & Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Special Operations Command in conjunction with the National Association to Protect Children. Their goal is to protect children from sexual predators that troll the internet to find victims and network with other deviants.
The program trains wounded veterans, or those transitioning out of the military, in digital forensics. They become experts on tracking down and identifying predators. Celeste Koszut, a supervisory special agent for the Homeland Security Investigations division of ICE, told reporters that former military members have developed certain skills that make them ideal candidates.
“We need the specialized skills that these HERO interns possess to be able to go online to dig deep and find all of the individuals that are conducting these crimes,” she said.
Beattie is one of 16 veteran interns currently working with federal agents to combat online predators. The veterans complete two months of training and conduct a 10-month internship with Homeland Security Investigations before being considered for full-time employment. Beattie says being selected for the program has been an eye-opening experience that has humbled him. He thought his time serving in Afghanistan had prepared him for the worst dangers in the world, but has since changed his mind.
“There are enemies here that I’m more afraid of than there,” Beattie said. “Everyday, I’m appalled at how many people are partaking in this, the majority of the victims that we end up helping, their predator was someone they knew. It was their coach, their priest, their step-father.”
Beattie has reportedly put 12 pedophiles behind bars since he started working with the program in November.