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Continued: Wounded veterans work to capture child predators

  • Article by: KEVIN FREKING , Associated Press
  • Last update: January 5, 2014 - 8:08 PM

The veterans said their combat experience is proving to be an asset when it comes to dealing with the emotional toll of the job.

“I’m able to turn a lot of things off,” Krieger said. “If I couldn’t, I’d probably have gone crazy.”

Zepeda said that, in his time at war, “I’ve seen it all. Trust me.” He tries not to think too much about what he sees on the job.

“You just move on,” he said. “You know what you’re seeing, but you’re not getting personal with it.”

Justin Gaernter, a Marine Corps combat engineer who lost both legs in Afghanistan, said he had to think long and hard before taking the internship. He worried it could make the mental aspects of his recovery more difficult.

In the end, the satisfaction of possibly saving a child’s life or putting a child predator behind bars outweighed those considerations.

“My time got cut short in the service. I wanted to continue serving my country, and this was my way to do that,” said Gaertner, 24, the youngest member of the group.

  • related content

  • Army Staff Sgt. Oskar Zepeda at the entrance to a Digital Forensics Lab at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office in Seattle, where he is serving a one-year internship.

  • Zepeda wears a metal bracelet bearing the names of friends who died while serving with him during his nine tours of duty.

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