American Matthew VanDyke is making a difference in the fight against ISIS by training Assyrian Christians to fight terrorists and protect themselves.
VanDyke recruits experienced U.S. military veterans to train them in skills ranging from first aid to advanced marksmanship. It's a strict application process for veterans who are interested in joining SOLI.
VanDyke said they take less than 1 percent of all applicants -- many coming from Texas. He said it's not for soldiers to go and fight someone else's war, but to equip the local forces, such as the Iraqi Christians in the Nineveh Plains to defend themselves.
VanDyke said the Iraqi Christian forces are in the top tier among skilled military forces in the country.
The Sons of Liberty creation and mission are personal for VanDyke.
"ISIS executed two of my friends, American journalists James Foley and Steve Sotloff in 2014," said VanDyke.
SOLI is a security consulting firm he started a few years ago, and it's helping Assyrian Christians finally return home.
"This Christmas, for a lot of them, may not have spent a Christmas in their home since 2014. Now, they're able to return and rebuild. And most importantly, they have forces we've trained that are able to defend their land," VanDyke said.
VanDyke added the organization has more plans for expansion.
"There's groups in Africa and Asia that have requested our support," VanDyke said. "We're in talks with them right now to take our missions international."
The training process would not be possible without U.S. military veterans volunteers heading to the Middle East to teach and train. He said a green beret soldier taught at one of his leadership courses.
"We have had some from Texas who deployed," VanDyke said. "We've had many applicants from Texas. Texas is where a lot of applicants and our donors are based," the director and founder said.
SOLI is not affiliated with U.S. troops or the U.S. government. It's the first non-profit military contracting firm in the world.
The calling can be dangerous for him. Back in 2011, VanDyke was imprisoned in Libya during the Civil War there.
"My team members and I were abducted by a rogue unit in Iraq and so we were imprisoned for 25 days back in September, October--it's an occupational hazard. I can't get into too much details because we're in the process of getting back our equipment," he said.
But despite the dangers, he continues the push to promote freedom overseas.
"This is something I completely believe in. I'll be doing this forever," VanDyke said.
For more information about SOLI, click here.
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