Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

Storytellers: Share, inspire, heal

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Staff Sgt. Kway Min, 21st Medical Group, shares the story about his lottery selection to move at the age of 19 from his home country of Myanmar to the United States at The Club Sept. 12. Storytellers was created to encourage Airmen to share their stories, to get the stories out in the open and to watch these stories change lives.

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Staff Sgt. Kway Min, 21st Medical Group, shares the story about his lottery selection to move at the age of 19 from his home country of Myanmar to the United States at The Club Sept. 12. Storytellers was created to encourage Airmen to share their stories, to get the stories out in the open and to watch these stories change lives.

By Staff Sgt. J. Aaron Breeden

21st Space Wing Public Affairs

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Nearly 100 people packed into the ballroom of The Club to see Team Pete’s inaugural Storytellers event on the morning of Sept. 12.

Storytellers was created to encourage Airmen to share their stories, to get the stories out in the open and to watch those stories change lives.

Tech. Sgt. Kimberly McDougle, Team Pete’s lead Storytellers coordinator, said that the intent of this event, in one word, was to inspire.

“I wanted (everyone) to come and see … and meet the people behind the uniform,” said McDougle.

“Everyone has a life story and sometimes you just never know what it is,” she added. “I … wanted people to be inspired by that and I think we definitely accomplished that today.”

Wiping away tears and stifling laughs, the audience was entranced as they followed each Storyteller through their life’s journey.

One attendee in particular, Tech. Sgt. Melinda Bethea, 561st Network Operations Squadron Information Assurance non-commissioned officer in charge, said she was very excited about this event coming to Peterson, especially since she had attended the first-ever Storytellers while stationed in Turkey.

“Being at (the original Storytellers) was such a wonderful experience; I encouraged coworkers to come to this,” said Bethea.

Bethea added that the stories of injuries sustained while deployed hit close to home for her as she shares similar experiences.

“Everybody does have their own story and it’s courageous for people to come up in front of strangers and share those stories,” Bethea said. “It makes you … look at what you’re going through differently or from a different perspective.”

1st Lt. Jacque Vasta, 21st Force Support Squadron Sustainment Services Flight deputy commander, also in attendance that day, said she had done some research on the event, but did not know fully what to expect.

“I honestly thought it was a group of Airmen who were TDY doing this. I didn’t realize it was all Peterson Airmen telling their stories,” said Vasta. “I was extremely impressed with their public speaking, and their bravery for revealing that much to an audience that they don’t know personally.

“The last story in particular left me kind of speechless, but I’d have to say that I’m really proud to serve alongside members like that,” she added.

Vasta confided that some of the stories of sacrifice were difficult for her to relate to, but the importance of Storytellers is ultimately about getting to know who you work with.

“I’d say attending Storytellers is valuable because it reminds you of the importance of the people that you work with everyday (and everyone has) their own challenges outside of work,” said Vasta. “I think it renews your sense of camaraderie with the people you serve alongside and it really brought back why we are serving.”

Overall, McDougle said she was very satisfied with the event, especially since they exceeded their goal of expected attendees.

“Our goal is to do (Storytellers) at least once a year,” said McDougle. “If we can get enough people excited about it in enough time, then we could probably pull off another (Storytellers) in six months.”

Using her own words, McDougle said at the end of the day she too was inspired but re-emphasized that although Storytellers gives a platform for all Airmen to share their stories, the ultimate hope is that someone’s life is changed for the better for hearing these stories.

Anyone interested in participating in a future Storytellers project should contact the public affairs office at 556-5185.

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