But there is a program that takes our Wounded Warriors and puts them to work in a very meaningful way:
Dahlia Luallen was forced to leave the Army honorably after 8-years because of a series of injuries. She is now an intern at Homeland Security Investigations in Atlanta as part of the HERO program.Hard to imagine doing this work, day in and day out. That's why we call them "heroes."
When her military career ended she wondered what she would do next. "For me, when I got out I didn't just want to go back to work," Luallen said. "I wanted to continue to serve my country. It was not by choice when it happened."
That's when she heard from a former instructor about the HERO program and said she jumped at it. "Because it gave me that sense of what I felt when I was in the military," she said. "I felt like I was going to be doing something that was going to impact society."
Luallen is one of four people in the HERO program at HIS in Atlanta, which is overseen by Deputy Special Agent in Charge Greg Wiest. "They get to come here and work with us to bring that same work ethic, same desire, to serve the American public and more importantly to rescue children," he said.
Luallen received three months training and will serve ten months as an intern before being considered as a full-time analyst at HSI. She explained what HERO analysts do. "Whenever they go out on a warrant and they seize computers, I'm the one that goes through the computers and the evidence," she said.
Atlanta HERO analysts recently investigated the case of an Emory University Professor charged with Sexual Exploitation of Children. Epidemiology Professor Kevin Sullivan was arrested on June 15, 2015. A federal criminal complaint says pornographic images of girls, one 4 to 7 years old, were found on a digital hard drive in Sullivan's office at the Rollins School of Public Health.
Computers, hard drives, flash drives and a cell phone were seized from Sullivan's office and his home in Atlanta, according to the complaint. The complaint said Sullivan "attempted to destroy evidence on his desktop computer." HERO analysts in Atlanta searched all those electronic devices for child pornographic images.
Those are images Luallen finds every day on computers. "If you're human, you're going to feel a certain way about seeing these things happening to kids," she said.
But Luallen says finding and viewing disturbing pictures of children on a daily basis is what drives her. Military veterans in the HERO program not only find the evidence, they often are in on the arrests and the rescues of children. "Sometimes you get to see the kids," Luallen said. "So, you know, this is a child that I'm saving."