News>Resilient Airmen rally during Storytellers II
Sheri, wife of U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Donald Gray, 509th Bomb Wing first sergeant, shares her story of resiliency during the Storytellers II event, Sept. 19, 2013, at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. Throughout their marriage, the couple has gone through long periods of separation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley/Released)
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Maurice Ingram from the 509th Bomb Wing Equal Opportunity Office shares his story of overcoming depression during the Storytellers II event, Sept. 19, 2013, at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. Other Storytellers during the event shared how they overcame abusive relationships, marital issues and banishment from their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley/Released)
The Storytellers II event Sept. 19, 2013, at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., gave four Airmen and one dependent a chance to share their stories of resiliency during tough times in their lives. The purpose of Storytellers is to encourage listeners to take the advice they learn from the event and apply it to their lives, as well as encourage others in their life to do the same. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley/Released)
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Joseph Lindley, 509th Communications Squadron first sergeant, shares his resiliency story during the Storytellers II event, Sept. 19, 2013, at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. Lindley received a remote assignment to Korea shortly after getting married. Raised in a family where feelings weren’t discussed openly, Lindley had some trouble adjusting to married life and spoke about the importance of communicating and not shutting out people who want to help. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley/Released)
by Staff Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
9/26/2013 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Years of marriage spent apart, abusive relationships, banishment from family - these are the stories of Airmen who stood before their wingmen during the Storytellers II breakfast Sept. 19 at Whiteman Air Force Base.
Storytellers events around the Air Force started after a prompting question from senior leadership: "Every Airman has a story. What's yours?"
Storytellers acts as a platform from which Airmen and dependents who have overcome difficulties in their lives can share their tales of resiliency.
"It takes incredible bravery for them to stand on stage without hesitation and share the hardships they have gone through," said U.S. Air Force Chaplain (Capt.) Kenneth Johnson from the 509th Bomb Wing while addressing the audience. "The stories are meant to inspire you and inspire hope, as well as to encourage you to share the knowledge and advice you learn here with others."
This time around, the event featured the stories of four Airmen and one dependent who all went through challenging times in their lives but came out more resilient when all was said and done.
One of the Storytellers, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Pamela Field from the 509th Maintenance Group, dealt with a string of abusive relationships before joining the Air Force. After enlisting, though, the trouble did not cease.
"The reason I tell my story is because some people don't know what a healthy relationship looks like," Field said. "They might think they can't do better because they've heard all their lives how horrible they are. They might be trapped physically, emotionally or financially, but still think they can endure everything.
"There is so much more than physical pain that comes with being in an abusive relationship," she added. "It changes who you are. But with the bad things come resiliency and forgiveness. More important than forgiving them is forgiving yourself for things you don't have control over. You have to surround yourself with positive people who make you feel good."
This sentiment was echoed by many of the speakers - in the end, having someone there for them helped them heal. But the victory of getting to that point was often hard-won.
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Maurice Ingram from the 509th BW Equal Opportunity Office shared his story of overcoming depression. In 2004, he became overwhelmed while juggling everything expected of him personally and professionally while simultaneously managing his terminally ill mother's care even though they were geographically separated.
"The situation was tough on everyone, but everyone was looking to me for hope," Ingram said. "I was an NCO, a dad, a minister. I might have looked together on the outside, but I was dead inside. I didn't even realize I was depressed. I made it to work on time and I had money in my bank account, but there were not enough extracurricular activities or work in my ministry to lift me up out of that."
Also present at the event were resources available to help attendees who might also be going through tough times, including a chaplain, a mental health representative and a victim's advocate.
Overall, Storytellers is not just an opportunity for Airmen to share their stories; it provides a unique chance to find strength in shared experiences and community in the Air Force family.