WSVN — Taking down child predators is one of many missions of Homeland Security, and now they’re getting help. 7’s Craig Stevens explains how elite veterans are becoming homeland heroes.
For as long as he can remember, Steve Lumbert wanted to be in the military.
Steve Lumbert, wounded veteran: “Seventeenth birthday, had my father sign me up. I always knew I was going to be in the military.”
He spent 30 years serving his country.
Steve Lumbert: “I’ve been deployed numerous times. Then 9/11 happened and it was game on.”
He was prepared for the battlefield, but the things he saw there scarred him forever.
Steve Lumbert: “It really affected me, and I didn’t realize it until afterwards that I was just no fun to be around.”
Like many veterans, Steve had a hard time adjusting to life off the battlefield.
Steve Lumbert: “I missed being in uniform, and so I started doing jobs, and it really made it worse. It’s just a means to put money into a bank account. It has no other purpose.”
He was losing hope, until Homeland Security called with a new mission: to help save children.
Steve Lumbert: “It’s difficult to reinvent yourself, but I found a way — the H.E.R.O. Project.”
The H.E.R.O. Project is short for Human Exploitation Rescue Operatives. The group started recruiting wounded veterans in 2013.
Steve Lumbert: “I’m not banged up compared to them at all. Some of them really have some crazy disabilities.”
The vets commit to a one-year unpaid internship. They are trained to take apart computers and phones looking for child pornography.
Some even join law enforcement to hunt down and arrest people who abuse children.
Steve Lumbert: “I have been trained to specifically be aimed at chasing down pedophiles and solving child pornography cases.”
It’s not an easy job, which is why vets are perfect for it.
Al Deangelus, Supervisor, Miami Hero Corps: “They have truly been there and done that, and they understand there is a good versus evil in this world, and they’re all about getting after the evil part.”
Steve admits the job is difficult.
Steve Lumbert: “That is a tough thing to do. You know you have to see some of the horrible images.”
But knowing he’s saving children from horrors most of us couldn’t imagine gives him the strength to continue.
Steve Lumbert: “I do it because of this cup.”
A cup with the handprint of a little girl the heroes saved.
Steve Lumbert: “This little girl is no longer suffering, and that’s my goal. I want a cup. I want a lot of cups.”
He says this battle is just as important as the one he fought overseas.
Steve Lumbert: “The enemy is the enemy. They are both the enemy, but this is personal. This is here. These are our kids.”
Which is why Steve and his fellow vets are dedicated to their new mission as homeland heroes.
After his training ended last month, Steve was hired by Homeland Security Investigations to continue his work as a computer forensics analyst. He says he’s looking forward to taking down even more bad guys.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
H.E.R.O. Corps Info
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