A former Texas state trooper, fired after developing a debilitating illness caused by exposure to burn pits while serving in Iraq, was awarded $2.49 million by a jury.
Former Army Capt. Le Roy Torres won a lawsuit last week against the state of Texas for violations of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act, Military.com reported.
A six-person jury in the civil case ruled unanimously in Torres' favor.
Torres, an Army reservist, and wife Rosie led a decade-long fight for recognition of burn pits as a health risk and landmark legislation to provide benefits for sickened veterans.
Torres filed a lawsuit in 2017 charging that the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) denied his request to remain on the highway patrol force in an administrative capacity. Instead, he said, he was forced to retire, and was denied a disability retirement pension from the state.
DPS argued that it couldn't be sued without the state legislature granting permission.
The U.S. Supreme Court sided with Torres, and returned the case to Texas.
Torres, in a statement to Military.com on Monday, said he felt vindicated by the Friday ruling after a "grueling" fight.
"As citizen soldiers, we deserve to keep our professions when we return from serving our nation such as a deployment, subsequently accommodating the injured veteran if they return with certain limitations," Torres told Military.com.
"We should not have to bear the burden alone due to illnesses or injuries caused by the instrumentality of war."
Torres' attorney, Brian Lawler, told Military.com that DPS had ignored Torres.
"After Dec. 16, 2011 ... no one from the Department of Public Safety contacted Le Roy to tell him what was going on and there was no evidence at all (literally none) that DPS looked for another position for him to fill, despite their lawful, affirmative duty to do so," Lawler said in a statement.
Deployed to Iraq in 2007, Torres developed constrictive bronchiolitis, a condition that destroys the smallest airways in the lungs. It causes difficulties breathing, leaving those affected exhausted.
He had been assigned to Joint Base Balad, site of one of the largest burn pits used by U.S. forces to dispose of garbage generated by the facility, from everyday trash to medical waste, electronics, batteries, plastics, and more.
Torres was later diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and an autoimmune disorder.
Charlie McCarthy, a writer/editor at Newsmax, has nearly 40 years of experience covering news, sports, and politics.
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