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Veterans Speak Out: Child Soldiers Are Child Abuse

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Newly released child soldiers wait in a line for their registration during the release ceremony in South Sudan in February 2018. More than 300 child soldiers, including 87 girls, were released in South Sudan's war-torn region of Yambio under a program to help reintegrate them into society. The program aims to hel 700 child soldiers return to normal life. (Photo: STEFANIE GLINSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Newly released child soldiers wait in a line for their registration during the release ceremony in South Sudan in February 2018. More than 300 child soldiers, including 87 girls, were released in South Sudan’s war-torn region of Yambio under a program to help reintegrate them into society. The program aims to hel 700 child soldiers return to normal life. (Photo: STEFANIE GLINSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

In honor of Memorial Day, Clarion reached out to veterans to talk to them about preventing violent extremism. This following is Part III of our series “Veterans Speak Out.”

U.S. Army combat veteran Mike Carroll speaks about how child soldiers are created, in part through child abuse, he says.

Speaking with Clarion Project’s National Correspondent and joined by Veterans Community Response founder Darren Coldiron and board member Roger Vielle, the trio discuss how a child is made to be a man before he is ready:

Carroll: If you take a ten-year-old who hasn’t exactly experienced life and hasn’t actually been able to blossom into a young man … and that is being taken advantage off …

Coldiron: Some of those 10-year-old boys have to put a gun put into their hands.

Carroll: When they’re being taken advantage of in any way, then that’s wrong … It doesn’t matter what religion or culture it is. When they lose that innocence, it shouldn’t happen.

Coldiron: Mike is correct. Child abuse can happen in a variety of different ways and does happen in a variety of different ways. It can happen through sexual abuse. It can happen through forced labor. It can happen through being a child soldier…

As Carroll also shares, “Learning from your community is also a part of childhood.” This rings true when we look at the rise of child radicalization in both the West and the East, from from weaponizing children for use in the climate change debate to the indoctrination to hate by teaching children as young as five or even younger to stab Jews, as is routinely done by the Palestine Authority.

The hour-long conversation includes VCR president Coldiron (right), Vielle (left) and Carroll (back).

Coldiron was born and raised in Montana. He has been a firefighter for 19 years in Eastern Washington. For the past 14 and 1/2 years, he has served as president and founder of Veterans Community Response, which helps combat veteran reintegration and works on various disaster missions.

Vielle is Blackfoot and Kiowa, born and raised on the Blackfeet Nation in Northwest Montana by his grandparents. Roger has served veterans for the past 10 years as a native spiritual adviser and VCR board member. He is also an instructor at The University of Idaho. Roger served in the U.S. army during the Vietnam War. He is a combat vet who worked in military intelligence.

Carroll served in the U.S. army, deploying to Iraq in 2003. Mike has been working in reintegrating combat vets since 2008. Mike serves for VCR as a peer mentor and as Roger’s right hand man.

If you’re a combat veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the Veterans Community Response is a resource created for you. The last five minutes of the interview offers a pathway to connect with the Veterans Community Response.

 

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Veterans Speak Out (Part I): Child Radicalization

What Is Our Preventing Violent Extremism Program?

Youth Resilience is Key to Waging Peace

[Infographic} Child Recruits: Just How Bad Is It?

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