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The importance of healing: Peterson AFB hosts 4th Storytellers event

(Courtesy Graphic)

(Courtesy Graphic)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Every year service members groan as requirements for resiliency training, amongst others, come across their desk. It’s another training that makes them think about others for a little bit, check the box and forget about until the following year. Storytellers changes that mentality about resiliency into a positive one.

Peterson Air Force Base is hosting the fourth iteration of Storytellers from 8-10 a.m. at The Club on Wednesday, Nov. 2. Five members of Team Pete will be sharing personal stories of adversity and resiliency in an inviting atmosphere, which allows the audience to connect and learn.

Storytellers was created from the idea that every Airman has a story, as said by former Chief of Staff Gen. Mark. Welsh. Peterson took it another step and said every service member and every person has a story.

This year the speakers range from Airmen to a Soldier and a military spouse. Senior Airman Robert Valencia-Aiken, 21st Aerospace Medicine Squadron public health technician and Storytellers event coordinator, said the idea is to create an intimate setting so the speakers are comfortable and the audience is more apt to soak up the messages.

“The premise is to have the audience come in and feel comfortable,” he said. “It almost feels like they can let their guard down and they are open to listening. There are no formalities as far as a formal event you would see in the military.”

When compared to standard military resiliency training, Storytellers takes a different approach because no one is being talked at, but rather they are engaged in powerful, personal stories. Valencia-Aiken said people can expect to relate to the speakers because the stories are genuine and show the person behind the uniform.

“In relating to each of (the stories), I believe they’ll be able to take something away,” he said. “It’s three-fold. If you’re going through it or something similar, you get can through. If you know somebody going through it, you can help them out. And if you’ve been through it, you can share your story, too, to help others.”

The hope for the event is to have attendees allow each story to touch them and sink in, in a way that allows them to connect with the speakers and really take the impactful messages to heart.

“My desire is that it will be impactful,” he said. “(I don’t want) it to just be a memory in a year from now. If they go through something or someone they know does that the story helped them get through it, that reached my goal – even if it was just one person.”

Valencia-Aiken has a passion for the event because he told his own story at the event two years ago and he said it helped him heal, even though it was hard to tell something on such a personal level. In addition, he received feedback from audience members who said his story impacted them.

This year five stories range from an Airman who battled cancer to a Soldier who had to grow up quickly leave the past behind him, to a military spouse who moved to the United States with her military family from a third-world country.

The speakers for Storytellers are:
-Lt. Col. Christine Millard – 21st Comptroller Squadron commander
-Tech. Sgt. Alex Schaub – 721st Communications Squadron cyber transport operations NCO in charge
-Private Logan Ingram – U.S. Army infantryman
-Senior Airman Rose Gudex – 21st Space Wing Public Affairs photojournalist
-Ms. Michelle Mras – military spouse

Because the stories are so personal and, in some cases traumatic, helping agencies will be available at the event for anyone who may need resources.

The event may be a little less formal than most military events, but the hope is to engage, inspire and motivate each attendee, who in turn, take the messages back to their units to share and learn from.

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui