My first guest is Ernesto Rodriguez.
Ernesto Rodriguez joined the U.S. Army a few months before 9/11/2001 and served four tours of duty, which included tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. He was a Staff Sergeant and member of the 101st Airborne.
Christian McPhate, an award-winning journalist who specializes in investigative reporting, writes about Ernesto at Dallas Observer.:
Rodriguez says he feels the happiest when he serves “something bigger than himself.” It’s part of the reason he joined the Army a few months prior to Sept. 11, 2001. Rodriguez was in the middle of infantry training when the Twin Towers fell. He says his drill sergeant told them they were going to war and advised those who joined the military for the college money and bonus to leave now. Some left, Rodriguez points out, but he stayed and ultimately deployed to Iraq. At first, he says he thought he was in a Call of Duty game until a bullet grazed his helmet. “That was the first time I knew it was real. I ducked back, got into a fetal position.”
But, like other soldiers, he had no other choice but to move forward. “You become numb,” Rodriguez says. “It’s a coping mechanism in combat. You have to realize that you’re going to live or you’re going to die. All you can do is keep going; but if you think about it, when you’re done with combat, and you’re just living, all of it starts flooding back in.”
Following his discharge from the Army, Rodriguez began a career in radio. His broadcasting days came to an end after two of his veteran buddies committed suicide. More from McPhate’s article:
He claims that they weren’t receiving the mental health help they needed from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a system that many claim is overwhelmed.
“How do you cope with it? How do you define yourself?” he says. “You’re trained and conditioned to be a badass; then you get out of the Army.”
. . .
He began to research online and found a 2012 report by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs saying that an average of 22 veterans committed suicide every day because of mental health issues stemming from PTSD, traumatic brain injury or simply the stress of transitioning from military to civilian life.
Consequently, Ernesto left from his radio gig and started walking, carrying a huge American flag. He’s walking to raise awareness of the 22 veteran suicides daily.
Rodriguez hopes to be an advocate for veterans, and his route destination is Los Angeles.
Ernesto and I will talk about PTSD and what the Veterans’ Administration can and should be doing as well as what civilians can do.
Our troops and veterans deserve our very best, but we’ve been failing them. Listen in as Ernesto Rodriguez and I tackle the weighty topic and discuss actions Americans everywhere can take to help!
My second guest will be Jonathan Lines.
Jonathan Lines joined Operation Underground Railroad in October 2016 after retiring from federal law enforcement where he served honorably for 25 years. As O.U.R.’s Executive Vice President of Operations he directs efforts throughout the world in saving children from the evils of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.
As a dedicated and decorated special agent, Jon served in the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Jon’s law enforcement career was punctuated by numerous prestigious awards for investigative and operational excellence, including a DHS Secretary’s Award for Excellence, and the DOJ Office of the Inspector General’s National Award of Merit, the highest honor an agent can receive.
Jon began his law enforcement career with DOJ in Arizona and finished his quarter century run in Utah as the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of DHS, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). He was a pioneer of sorts, charged with shaping HSI in Utah, which was created as the investigative branch of DHS soon after the tragic events of 9/11.
Jon was instrumental in establishing HSI from its infancy in Utah to what is now a reputable and prolific force in the Utah law enforcement community. Jon’s law enforcement experience covered a wide array of complex investigative endeavors.
In addition to leading many federal national security criminal investigations, Jon was an accomplished undercover operative who later oversaw a regional undercover program as a HSI manager. Jon led those under his command to be perennial leaders in all categories of statistical productivity, emphasizing innovation, efficiency, and accountability.
Jon Lines and I will talk about Operation Underground Railroad. OUR rescues victims of sex trafficking, as described on the website:
Since being founded in 2013 we’ve gathered the world’s experts in extraction operations and in anti-child trafficking efforts to bring an end to child slavery. O.U.R.’s Underground Jump Team consists of former CIA, Navy SEALs, and Special Ops operatives that lead coordinated identification and extraction efforts. These operations are always in conjunction with law enforcement throughout the world.
Once victims are rescued, a comprehensive process involving justice for the perpetrators and recovery and rehabilitation for the survivors begins.
It is time for private citizens and organizations to rise up and help. It is our duty as a free and blessed people.
We’re having this conversation now because of the upcoming Super Bowl.
While Twitter fights it out over whether the Patriots deserve to be in another Super Bowl with the hashtag #NotMySuperBowl, Houston’s mayor and law enforcement are planning to increase resources to combat human trafficking leading up to and during the game. Year after year, it’s the Super Bowl that is the biggest sex trafficking event in America. Men, women and children will travel from all over the country to cheer on their favorite teams, all the while failing to realize the dark reality happening just outside the stadium.
In 2015 in the two weeks leading up to Super Bowl XLIX, law enforcement agencies in 17 states arrested nearly 600 people and rescued 68 victims of human trafficking during a sting. In 2012, the week before the Super Bowl, over 1,000 postings on Backpage.com, an online postings site that recently came under fire in a new Senate report, listed services from women and escort services, and a quarter referenced the Super Bowl, or “Super Bowl Specials.” Right now, 27 million human beings are being held against their will as slaves, and 2 million of them are children. This is NOT just a third world problem. This is a tragedy finding it’s home in America even at high profile events like the Super Bowl, where prostitution and sex crimes occur on the event’s edges.
Listen in as Jon and I talk about sex trafficking in America, Operation Underground Railroad, and what average citizens can do to help!
Follow Ernesto Rodriguez at @nerdnesto, Operation Underground Railroad at @OURrescue, and me at @tamij AND tweet your questions/comments during the show using hashtag #tjrs.
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