Argot: Audio Short Story Collection – Episode 04

No Such Thing | Rick Witherell  

On this episode of Argot: Audio Short Stories from the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Collection, Rick Witherell shares a story about his deployment to Iraq, chemical warfare, and the lasting effects of Gulf War Syndrome.

 

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Rick Witherell of Tionesta, Pennsylvania served in the Army at the end of the Cold War, but when his reserve unit was called up during the Gulf War, he deployed to Kuwait.

“We fought a chemical war,” he says. Most people do not understand the toxic fallout from Iraqi scud missiles and the massive oil field fires that rained down on the troops. The effects were inescapable then–and now.

Yet for many years after the war the government was incapable or unwilling to recognize the peculiar illness brought home by the troops. “I’ve got Gulf War Syndrome,” Rick says. “I live with neurological pain every day of my life.”

The original interview was recorded in March 2014 by The Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative. This audio short was engineered and produced by Kevin Farkas.