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Holbrook veteran to attend State of the Union address

An Army war vet from Holbrook who lost both legs in Iraq is set to attend Wednesday's State of the Union as a guest of Rep. Steve Israel.

The Army corporal, Christopher Levi, has been recuperating from war wounds at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., after he lost both legs and suffered serious injuries to his right arm in a 2008 attack. Doctors at Walter Reed have performed multiple surgeries in an effort to restore the use of his right hand.

"I can't think of any guest who deserves the honor of witnessing history more than Christopher Levi," Israel (D-Huntington) said Tuesday. "I want him at the State of the Union as a reminder to all of my colleagues about the true heroes in our country."

Members of Congress may invite a guest to sit in the House gallery during the president's annual address to the joint session.

Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) offered his invitation to Army Sgt. 1st Class Gary Richard of Hauppauge, who is among a growing number of troops who say their lungs may have been damaged by exposure to smoke from burning waste at military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Last week, Bishop introduced legislation that would further restrict the use of "burn pits" to dispose of plastics, medical waste and other toxins in combat zones.

"His presence will remind those attending of the great sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform today and the great responsibility our nation has to ensure their safety," Bishop said of the invitation.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) invited Teamsters Union Local 237 president Gregory Floyd, whose 24,000 members work for government agencies in New York City and Long Island.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) offered her invitation to a member of her staff, as she has done in years past.

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) offered his to a staffer's mother from Long Beach.

Although Levi could not be reached for his reaction to the invitation, his mother said she was surprised, pleased, but maybe a little embarrassed for him.

"I'm totally in shock," Debbie Levi said from Holbrook. "It's nice that he is going, but the only thing is I have all of his suits here. I just got them out of the dry cleaners."

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