(NewsNation) — For Le Roy Torres, serving as a Texas state trooper had been a dream since he was a child. Through hard work and determination, his dream became a reality.
Torres left the job to fight in the war against terror, but never imagined he would face another fight when he returned home — a fight for his job.
The Army veteran says he suffered lung damage when he was exposed to open burn pits in the Middle East. That damage, he says, left him unable to keep working as a trooper once he returned to Texas.
Still passionate to serve his community, Torres decided to ask for another position working for the state of Texas, but the state refused his request. He eventually resigned and endured what he described as a very painful season of his life.
While on duty, “I was more concerned of either being shot at or indirect fire, but never that the invisible wounds would follow me home,” Torres said.
The situation didn’t sit well with Torres, so he sued the state of Texas with the case making its way all the way up to the Supreme Court.
Wednesday, the Supreme Court sided with the former trooper. The court ruled that Torres has the right to sue the state over claims he was forced out of his job after returning from military duty in Iraq. In a 5-4 ruling, the justices determined Texas is not shielded from such lawsuits.
Torres says he’s thrilled the court upheld the rights of service members.
“You have countless veterans that come from overseas with limitations. We shouldn’t have that fear of coming back and being concerned about perhaps our civilian jobs being compromised because of limitations that we battle, especially following this 20-year war, but it’s definitely a day of victory,” Torres said. “It’s something that’s monumental, not only because it’s our case, but also the others that have been having issues that have lost their jobs in other states … that’s going to benefit them, as well.”
Torres told NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” on Wednesday that the five-year legal battle was a challenge, but one worth fighting for because he knows he’s not alone in this issue.
“My hope for other service members is that they will not be in fear of being deployed or going to serve their nation on active-duty status and then returning perhaps with limitations due to an illness or an injury, that they wouldn’t have to be concerned about … perhaps losing their job, but that they will be accommodated based on their limitations.
“This case … equips those that are willing to serve or raise that right hand … they can go and serve the nation without that fear of coming back and their civilian jobs be questionable,” Torres said.
Now, Torres will go back to Texas and argue the merits of his case there. He remains hopeful for another victory.