10 January 2013 - An American flag dangles from the Torres home, the sign of a long battle won: a new law — signed Thursday by President Barack Obama — creating a registry of U.S. service members perhaps sickened or killed by burn pits used throughout Iraq and Afghanistan to destroy waste ranging from batteries to body parts.
But amid occasional smiles over the first step to formally identify the toxic effects of what’s called “this generation’s Agent Orange,” there were tears, too, in that house near Corpus Christi, Texas. Resident Le RoyTorres, 40, a former Army captain, is one of the ill veterans who will land on that list.
“It was a big victory. It justifies the need for health care. And now we know we’re not alone,” said Rosie Lopez-Torres, Le Roy’s wife, who said she “knocked on a lot of doors” in Congressional hallways to push the bill, which passed Dec. 30. The law requires the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to assemble the registry and report back to Congress.
“But because of (our) finances, because my husband can’t work, today was also one of the toughest days for us,” Lopez-Torres said Wednesday. “Today, he was in tears. I’m not going to sugar coat that. How do I convince this once-strong, 6-foot-tall man who never missed a day of work: ‘You are the same man.’ But as the head of the household, he said: ‘You don’t understand what this has done to me.’ So it’s hard. But we still hang that flag on our porch. This has nothing to do with the military. This has to do with the contractors.” read more>>>