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Storytellers returns to Peterson

2015 Storytellers will take place from 8-10 a.m. Oct. 2 at the Peterson Combined Club.

2015 Storytellers will take place from 8-10 a.m. Oct. 2 at the Peterson Combined Club.

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Every Airman has a story, but in the shuffle and stresses of everyday life, many are simply lost or forgotten, which is why the Storytellers program was started.

Storytellers is a live event where fellow Airmen share their stories of resilience, motivation and professional pride in a relaxing environment that allows the audience to connect and learn. The event is an experience for service members of all ranks with an emphasis on educating and mentoring younger Airmen.
The following Airmen will share their stories of resilience during this year's event:

Col. Keith Balts, Air Force Space Command - During a year-long deployment, Balts started a project initially meant for his daughter. The goal was to gain a female perspective about the military and deployment. It turned into much more. Balts was able to interview across the ranks to gain insight and a different outlook about military life from a female perspective.
Army Maj. Robert Callahan, North American Aerospace Defense Command - Callahan was shocked when he found out that he had bone cancer in his leg and the best option was amputation and aggressive chemotherapy. After rehab, and divine appointments with the right individuals, he was able to not only regain his strength but deploy twice and continue to be an outstanding member of the military, even outperforming some of the young guys in PT, despite having a prosthetic leg.

Tech. Sgt. William Gazzaway, 21st Communications Squadron - Losing anyone close to you is not easy, but losing your son is even harder. Gazzaway lost his son at a young age and it turned his whole world upside down. He was the model Airmen and no one knew what was really going on until everything fell apart. Turning to alcohol to cope with his depression, he found some encouragement from the right people and found help. His life began to come together again, piece by piece. Mental health was there, and it was the turning point for him to regain strength and hope.

Tech. Sgt. Thomas Echelmeyer, 21st Aerospace Medicine Squadron - Dealing with stress can take a toll. Especially, when it comes from your own home and is outside of your own control. Echelmeyer's son was diagnosed with leukemia. When this could have broken the spirit of a family, it actually brought them closer together. Dealing with the highs and lows, there was a new normal for the family. The support they found from the surrounding Air Force community was astounding. There was not only support, encouragement and hot meals, but a true sense of family that carried this family through the difficult times in their life.

Airman 1st Class Patrick Enriquez, 21st Contracting Squadron - Leaving home at the age of 16, bouncing from house to house and ending up homeless, Enriquez experienced the rougher side of life. Having the determination but nowhere to apply it, he continued to try to make ends meet, but never caught a break. Not having the support a normal family would offer, he faced a lack of options. After many trials, the idea of joining the military came to mind. After being accepted and graduating, he finally saw his family come together. For the first time in his life, he saw his father cry tears that expressed pride for his son.

Storytellers was begun in July 2012 at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, by Master Sgt. Lee Hoover, Incirlik American Forces Network station manager, and Tech. Sgt. Kitsana Dounglomchan, 39th Force Support Squadron Airman Leadership School instructor. It was first introduced at Peterson AFB in 2013 by Tech. Sgt. Kimberly McDougle, Airmen Leadership School Instructor.

This year's Storytellers event is Oct. 2 from 8-10 a.m. in the ballroom at The Club and includes complimentary refreshments for all attendees. Seating is limited, so arrive early.

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