LeRoy Torres, 39, a Reserve captain and former Texas state trooper, was assigned to Joint Base Balad, Iraq, in 2008 and believes exposure to the camp’s open-air burn pits left him with debilitating respiratory problems. He can’t walk long distances, perform daily tasks or even roughhouse with his kids.
“My husband actually said that with our insurance, we’d be better off if he’s not around,” Rosie Torres said. “I don’t want to hear that. That’s not what our family needs.”
When he went to VA for treatment, he felt he wasn’t getting solutions, so he turned to a doctor at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee who has diagnosed more than 40 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with a rare condition known as constrictive bronchiolitis. The consultation with pulmonologist Dr. Robert Miller put them further in debt.
“Constrictive bronchiolitis is characterized by relentlessly progressive disease, lack of response to treatment and severe disability and it is often fatal … although clinicians should remain diligent and aware of the possibility of constrictive bronchiolitis, the data do not establish a convincing link,” wrote physicians Dr. Michael Morris and Col. Lisa Zacher.