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Bills aim to bring more resources to veterans exposed to burn pi - KRISTV.com | Continuous News Coverage | Corpus Christi

Bills aim to bring more resources to veterans exposed to burn pits

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Bills filed on the state and federal levels aim to provide more medical services to veterans who have been exposed to burn pits. Bills filed on the state and federal levels aim to provide more medical services to veterans who have been exposed to burn pits.
LeRoy Torres says he had to give up his career because of ongoing health problems from toxins in the burn pits. LeRoy Torres says he had to give up his career because of ongoing health problems from toxins in the burn pits.
A bill is filed in the US Senate and Rep. Abel Herrero and Senator Chuy Hinojosa have also filed bills in Texas. A bill is filed in the US Senate and Rep. Abel Herrero and Senator Chuy Hinojosa have also filed bills in Texas.
ROBSTOWN -

Veterans exposed to toxic chemicals from open air burn pits while on duty overseas could soon get some much needed assistance. Many of those veterans struggle with serious health problems because they were near the burn pits at military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now, bills filed on both the federal and state levels aim to bring these veterans more resources. They aim to identify and provide more health services to veterans exposed to toxins from the burn pits, where the military burned everything from plastic and batteries, to dead animals and human waste.

It means a lot to the Torres family in Robstown, who has been dealing with the consequences of burn pit exposure for years. 

LeRoy Torres served in Iraq, and worked as a state trooper. But today he struggles with ongoing health problems.

"Headaches, chronic fatigue, always have like an upset stomach," he told KRIS 6 News in March.

It's forced Torres to trade his career for days spent in the hospital. His family says his health issues are caused by toxins from burn pits.

"These men and women went to fight for our freedom, and they're coming back to face a lot of misdiagnosis, a lot of denial of any type of specialized health care," said Rosie Torres, LeRoy's wife.

That is why LeRoy and Rosie formed the organization Burn Pits 360, and helped create a national registry for soldiers exposed to burn pits. 

Now they are pushing a state registry, working with Texas legislators. Representatives Abel Herrero and Senator Chuy Hinojosa have filed bills in the House and Senate.

In a joint statement to KRIS 6 News, they say, "It is imperative that Texas take the initiative to ensure our veterans get the medical care they deserve."

"That's the model we want to adopt across every state," Rosie Torres said. "That will help us drive federal legislation."

On the federal level, a bill just introduced to the US Senate would create a new center within the VA that would be used to research the effects of burn pits and treat sick veterans. 

It is important to the Torres family, since LeRoy's health has only gotten worse since his interview last March.

"Watching my husband's health decline, every day it's a new issue, every week it's a new issue," Rosie Torres said. 

Nonetheless, they say they have one concern with that bill. 

"The center may take twenty years to get funded," Rosie Torres said. "We need a health program implemented now. People are dying now."

To give perspective to how many people share stories like LeRoy's, and could be impacted by these bills, more than 97,000 people have signed up on the national burn pits registry.

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