Wounded warriors getting another chance to fight

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)- Soldiers hurt in combat have a new iMission hunting down predators who are out to hurt your children.

The heroes were trained right here East Tennessee.

They come from the ranks of America's Military, pulled into service after being wounded in battle.

Their mission: "To catch the guys who are abusing children."

They're the Human Exploitation Rescue Operatives, H.E.R.O.s for short.

They work with the National Association to Protect Children, and their military experience makes them the perfect match.

"When I found out about this mission, it was a chance to get back into the good fight and defend those who couldn't defend themselves," says Chris Lehmann, a H.E.R.O. Operative.

"They've been trained to hunt, to hunt people and they're zeroed in like a laser to find the children," says Greier Weeks, the Exec. Director of PROTECT.

"It's helping the most innocent of all, the kids," Jason Vest is a retired Captain with the United States Air Force, after an injury brought him home, he gladly took on this new mission, "The problem is worse than I thought it could be, it might even be worse than the problem with terrorists."

Busting the bad guys and protecting the kids made this a no-brainer.

"Initially it was the difference between sitting at Ft. Stewart and finding something productive to do with myself. But once I got into it I realized what a problem this is," says Operative Hampton Culp.

A war that has to won on multiple fronts, "This is not just a battle, it's a high tech battle," says Weeks.

Which is why they're training at ORNL.

"The scientists at the lab have shown unbelievable commitment to this," he says, "they have developed the technology that will allow us to rescue thousands of children."

A mission, unlike any other.

"It's difficult to work with this type of material but, at the same time it's incredibly motivating," says Culp, "There's never a reason to not want to go into work. Yes it's a little bit distressing but at the same time, the satisfaction that you've actually stopped somebody from ruining a young human being's life, is incredible."

Vest is confident this program will work, "I think we're going to get just about everyone of them."

The group finished its training in Washington D.C. and they're reporting for duty at different Homeland Security offices around the country.

This program is based here in Knoxville but funded primarily by you, through donations.

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