By Kelley Chambers, email@example.com,@KelleyChambers7 on Twitter
Desert Storm veteran Chuck Foreman's most pivotal rescue mission didn't take place in the wilderness of Iraq. It was for a friend whose 16-year-old daughter had run off with a 40-year-old man suspected of drugging her.
The police couldn't help because she had gone willingly, Foreman said.
With just his Harley and his iPhone, the Austin resident was able to help get the girl home safely. It was at that moment he began developing a commitment to finding more like her, vowing never to charge a dime for his services.
"The more you get into this missing kid thing, the more it opens your eyes to it," Foreman said. "It's a very dangerous world for children."
Using his military know-how and a desire to continue protecting those he has served, Foreman formed the Center for Search and Investigations (CFSI) two years ago. Comprised strictly of volunteers, the organization assists in the search for missing children by building a network of "ready to ride" bikers across the nation. The organization also helps in the distribution and collection of information during the search for a missing child, and raises awareness of this growing epidemic.
So far, Foreman's mission has spread to nine states including Tennessee, California and Washington. He is currently working on his nonprofit status, as well as establishing state advocates in the DFW area.
Licensed in the state of Texas in various specialties within the security and investigations fields and with 10 years in the U.S. Army under his belt, Foreman uses combat experience - particularly his ability to achieve grace under pressure - in the electronic security and surveillance industry. The idea to use his expertise to help find missing children just seemed to fit, said Foreman, who also suffers from post traumatic stress disorder.
"You have to go with what you know, and having PTSD, your awareness is heightened all the time," Foreman said. "Part of PTSD is that you need to have a sense of self worth, because if you don't you'll commit suicide. You have to find something, find a cause. At the end of the day, I'm a soldier and always will be a solder. I'll do whatever it takes to recover a child."
Team CFSI consists of a network of licensed investigators from around the country. A state coordinator controls the activities for each state chapter, and city/regional advocate volunteers also help organize local efforts with "foot soldiers," or the bikers.
The Bikers Urban Response Needed (BURN) is just one of the tools in CFSI's toolbox, as the organization has also began forming an alliance of truckers across the country, the perfect eyes and ears for spotting kidnapped children, Foreman said.
Eventually, Foreman hopes to spread CFSI programs to all 50 states. He also wants to build lasting relationships with schools, where "foot soldiers" can meet children and share safety awareness tips with the community. Doing such would be great for spreading awareness, and it would also help dispel any unsavory rumors about today's biker lifestyle, he said.
"It's like [being] a proud father," Foreman said. "The military teaches you strategic planning and tactical execution. I laid the plan out, went through it and when it takes shape and is effective. My people are bringing in kids [and] I feel nothing but pride."
Wylie-based author Melanie Davis met Foreman through Facebook and is sharing his military story in the next book of her series The Triumph Book: HEROES, a collection of veteran stories spanning World War II to recent conflicts. Today, she donates part of her time to CFSI's cause, helping write for Foreman and sharing his missions through her channels of communication.
"The opportunity to help each other was easy to recognize," Davis said. "It isn't an easy process to go from depression and isolation to doing the kind of work Chuck does, and he has found his purpose in life by rescuing missing children."
As a veterans advocate for PTSD recovery, Davis' story project has proven to be a powerful tool for helping veterans and wounded soldiers deal with the challenges that come as a result of their service. Davis is currently working on a documentary film based on her book and uses her website,loveyourveterans.org, to connect with and give voices to local veterans like Foreman.
"Our veterans can learn to manage their PTSD symptoms by finding purpose and meaning in life," Davis said. "When veterans are able to see that their lives are still incredibly useful and important, when they can utilize their skills and talents to continue to serve others and our country, they often find they can push through the PTSD symptoms and find renewed joy in life."
Foreman faced many hard challenges upon returning to civilian life. He couldn't keep a marriage or a friend, he had a hard time sleeping and suffered from short-term memory loss. Things started to make sense once he was diagnosed with PTSD and today, he spends a lot of time mentoring younger men who are coming back from service.
"Peer-to-peer mentoring is important. Here, we give them something to do that's a little bit more than just a paycheck," Foreman said. "You don't have to be a veteran, just have a passion."
For information on CFSI and volunteer opportunities, visit cfsimissing.org.