DALLAS — Le Roy Torres spent his career serving as a Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper, and as an Army Captain.
"It's definitely something that I had always dreamed of doing," said Torres.
In 2007 to 2008, he was deployed to Iraq, where he said he was exposed daily to toxic fumes from the largest burn pit in the country. Years later, it left Torres with severe lung damage. He was diagnosed with a brain injury called "toxic encephalopathy" that impacts his short-term memory and cognitive abilities.
"I never thought that this was going to be an issue that I was going to have to deal with returning back from war," said Torres.
Today, he relies on supplemental oxygen to take a full breath.
"The effects of toxic exposure is real, and it's a monster because you don't know what to expect," he said. "One day, you can be fine. And then the next day, everything goes south."
When Torres returned home from Iraq, he said Texas DPS wouldn't accommodate his injuries at work. He said he was forced out of his job after 14 years.
Torres decided to file a lawsuit in Texas State Court in 2017, arguing wrongful termination. His case was declined.
"The army, the soldiers creed -- there's a line that says, 'I will never quit. I will never accept defeat,'" he stated.
Instead of letting it be, Torres and his attorneys took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The question was raised whether a private individual can sue their state employer in state court for violating a federal law.
After months of waiting, by a 5-4 vote by the justices, the answer came on Wednesday in Torres' favor. He can now argue his case in Texas, meaning the state can be sued under federal law.
"This is much bigger than me. It's going to help countless others," Torres said with relief. He hopes it will change the fate for tens of thousands of veterans who are facing injuries.
He describes the Supreme Court decision as a sense of closure, though his fight is far from over. Torres will soon take his case back to state court, where he will argue for wrongful termination.
As for his health, Torres just received stem cell therapy in April in Columbia. He's hoping his body responds well to the treatment.