Wounded Veterans Trained to Catch Child Predators in an Unpaid Internship

For years, veterans have reported that they’ve encountered many difficulties in convincing civilian employers that their skills obtained while in the service translate into paying civilian jobs. A new program aimed at wounded veterans may eventually lead to a paying job. However, it is of concern that it’s in the form of a one-year unpaid internship.

CBSNews.com is reporting that there’s a new class for wounded veterans who are being trained in forensic computer analysis to catch child predators for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). It’s an unpaid internship that includes 11 weeks of “intensive” legal and computer training.

According to CBSNews.com, “The veterans work in a lab and scour the computers and flash drives that agents in the field confiscate when conducting a search warrant. The veterans have two priorities: analyze the evidence to assist in the prosecution of a suspect, and help determine if there are children still in harm’s way who need to be rescued. The veterans also are called on to help agents carry out a search warrant.”

The work is emotionally challenging: veterans are screened during the interview process for being able to look at disturbing images. They have a case manager and they’re being called once a month to make sure they’re still able to continue. The combat veterans are using their skills in being able to process the disturbing material. The vets clearly have special skills that most civilians don’t have and can’t readily be educated to have.

While it’s great to have wounded veterans being trained for such important work, the vets receive no compensation and aren’t even guaranteed a job at the end of this difficult year. They are doing work that frees paid employees to do other tasks. Unpaid interns in many fields are going to court across the country, winning back pay for their uncompensated work. Whether it’s doing layout work for a magazine, research for college professors, running errands for a Capitol Hill firm, etc., unpaid internships are either a “rich man’s game” or an unfair hardship for those people who must work for a living. CBSNews.com is a sad apologist when it cheerfully exclaims, “Even though they’re not getting paid by ICE, the majority of those on the team are receiving disability compensation. Many also get a monthly stipend from the Department of Veterans Affairs for educational expenses.”  That’s the equivalent of a well-compensated executive saying, “She doesn’t need to be paid; she has a rich grandfather who can send her a check.” Certainly, it seems appropriate that some salary be paid to our working wounded veterans.


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