Retired Army Sergeant Tom Block remembers it well.
“I got injured October 6th, 2013 in Kandahar.”
He was part of the elite Special Forces in Afghanistan.
“We ran up to the building. A was woman wearing a suicide vest,” he recalls.
“It detonated and blew me and everyone near me up. I lost my right eye, had burns, and a broken foot.”
Block, an Army Ranger, was honored as ”Soldier of the Year” in 2014. He nearly died serving his country.
“I spent the next two years having surgeries. I could see my time in the Army coming to an end,” he says, thinking about his future.
“For me, as a Ranger, it was purpose driven. I felt very fulfilled. I wanted to find something along those lines.”
Now with his new partner and service dog Caesar, Tom’s found a new purpose and a new battlefield.
He is working with Homeland Security Investigations to protect children in the U.S.
”We go after child predators,” Block says.
It’s called the H.E.R.O program: Human Exploration Rescue Operatives.
Homeland Security Investigations recruits wounded Special Forces vets to find people who are on the internet preying on kids.
“They come with a very specific skill set and attention to detail,” says Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Matthew Etre.
“They know how to go after the bad guys.”
The vets commit to a one year unpaid internship. They are trained in high tech computer forensics and help federal agents investigate crimes against
“It’s a little different, we aren’t kicking down doors we’re saving kids and protecting the innocent,” Block explains.
It is a new mission that has given him a new purpose.
He’s replaced his lost eye with a prosthetic Captain American shield.
He says it is a symbol of hope for him and the children he is working to rescue.
“I walked into this thinking if I just help out one person or save one life I’ve succeeded,” Block says.
“But now I’m thinking along the line of how many can I save?”
The H.E.R.O. program is operating in all 50 states.
You can find out more about the program here: https://www.ice.gov/hero