‘PACT Act’ Champions to Receive 2022 Quincy Institute Award

CONTACT: Jessica Rosenblum, [email protected], 202.800.4662

WASHINGTON, DC — The Quincy Institute will honor Rosie Torres, Captain LeRoy Torres, and Burn Pits 360 – the organization they founded together – by presenting them with the Quincy Award for Responsible Statecraft, CEO Lora Lumpe announced today. The annual award celebrates Americans whose accomplishments best exemplify the Quincy Institute’s founding mission to promote ideas that move U.S. foreign policy away from endless war and toward vigorous diplomacy in the pursuit of international peace. 

The Torreses are being recognized for their extraordinary advocacy and relentless pursuit of government accountability for veterans’ illnesses from exposure to toxic burn pits while serving their country in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their efforts culminated in Congress passing and President Biden signing the PACT (Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics) Act into law in August 2022.

“The costs of America’s post-9/11 wars are nearly impossible to calculate. The government has made a practice of concealing so many of them from public view for so long that we Americans have forgotten to look for them,” said QI Chairman of the Board Andrew Bacevich. “But not Rosie and LeRoy Torres. Their lives’ work is to make the invisible visible by creating a public record of the toxic injury done to U.S. veterans in war. The Torreses’ endurance through years of Capitol Hill hearings, studies, briefings with lawmakers, awareness campaigns, and all the attendant disappointments, is a testament to the power of citizen-driven change and to the accountability we must demand from our government in all matters of war and national security.”

The Torres’s commitment to veterans’ health began long before the high-profile legislative victory this year. It started more than 10 years ago, when Captain Torres, a 23-year U.S. Army veteran, began experiencing delay, denial of benefits, and ineffective treatment for illnesses caused by his exposure to toxic fumes during his service in Iraq. Along with Mrs. Torres, who worked for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs for 23 years, he co-founded Burn Pits 360 to speak for generations of veterans who have returned home from duty only to have to fight another war against a veterans administration that continues to devalue their health and wellbeing. Through Burn Pits 360, the Torreses established an independent veterans exposure registry where thousands of servicemembers and their families have created a public record of their similar symptoms, suffering, and denial of healthcare and benefits.

Lumpe will present the Responsible Statecraft Award to the Torreses at a ceremony on Capitol Hill Tuesday, December 13 from 5:00-7:00 PM. Media is encouraged to attend the event.

The Quincy Institute was founded in December 2019 to move U.S. foreign policy away from an overreliance on the use of military force and toward greater reliance on diplomacy. The institute and the award are named after John Quincy Adams, the nation’s sixth president, a two term member of the House of Representatives, and one of the nation’s most accomplished diplomats. The award is conferred to Members of Congress, diplomats, leaders of movements or organizations, journalists, philanthropists, artists, or others who effectively promote ideas that move U.S. foreign policy away from endless war and toward vigorous diplomacy in the pursuit of international peace. It is granted without regard to the awardee’s political ideology, in keeping with QI’s transpartisan nature.

The first Quincy Award, in December 2020, went to Congresswoman Barbara Lee for her lone vote against an open-ended authorization for war against terrorism, and for her tireless efforts since to repeal that authorization. In December 2021, the institute recognized Senators Christopher Murphy, Mike Lee and Bernie Sanders, and Representatives Jim McGovern and Peter Meijer for championing legislation that would implement a vital rebalancing of war powers between Congress and the executive branch.