When Leroy Torres first arrived on the Balad military base in Iraq, he said he immediately noticed the smell. It was coming from the base’s burn pit, a pile of everything disposed of on a base, including trash, medical waste, chemicals, and more, which was set ablaze and burned all day, every day. Soon after arriving in Iraq, Leroy fell ill and doctors didn’t have the answers for his symptoms.
Across Iraq and Afghanistan, these open-air burn pits were on bases occupied by an estimated 2.5 million servicemembers, many of whom came home with the same illnesses and lack of answers as Leroy.
This month, we talked to Rosie and Leroy Torres about the health repercussions Le Roy and other veterans endured as a result of exposure to burn pits and the couple's fight for accountability.