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.”

This interview is a production of the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative, in partnership with the Veterans Breakfast Club. It was recorded March 20, 2014 at Mt. Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Tionesta, Pennsylvania.

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