Facing your demons: Kadena Airmen share personal tales of resiliency during Storytellers

by Senior Airman Omari Bernard
18th Wing Public Affairs

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan – Airmen, friends and family from across the base gathered at the Weekenders Lounge to listen to stories of their fellow Airmen during a Storytellers event Oct. 30, 2017.

“Storytellers was created as an avenue for Airmen to come and tell their stories of resilience, warrior ethos, and triumph over hardship,” said Tech. Sgt. Brandon Wolff, 18th Wing Professional Military Education instructor.

Originally created in 2013 at Incrilik Air Base, Turkey, the Storytellers program has since spread to other installations across the Air Force. It gives attendees a chance to meet someone that may have gone through similar struggles but overcame through resiliency.

“All too often we sit in front of a computer with fluorescent lights and get lost in the glow of a monitor while clicking through a slideshow, and we don’t really get any meaning out of it,” Wolff said. “This is a chance for us to come together and get that raw face to face interaction with someone that really has overcome these obstacles.”

According to Tech. Sgt. Shane Gunter, 18th WG PME instructor, Storytellers is about building resiliency through understanding hardship. During the event, representatives from the chapel corps, mental health and other agencies were there if any one listening wanted to reach out for help.

“This program is about military families taking care of military families,” Gunter said. “I think it’s important to understand that we have resilient Airmen in the Air Force. We have Airmen teaching Airmen resiliency skills and these individuals that experienced hardship and learned to cope with it on their own are using these resources already.”

While Storytellers is an Air Force program, it’s open to everyone on Kadena and is not Air Force or enlisted exclusive. Anyone and everyone is welcome to attend to share or listen to stories.

“You don’t have to be a great story teller to be allowed to tell your story, it’s about the message. This is our first event and we’re trying to ensure it gets off the ground,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Ortiz, 18th Wing PME instructor. “It’s not going to spread itself so we implore everyone to share the word about the program and look forward to the next event.”

Stories told at Storytellers can be about anything ranging from weight loss to suicide, it doesn’t have to be related to the military, explained Gunter.

“We had a multitude of people show up to this event to support the people that are in this program,” Gunter said. “There are people willing to listen to what they have to say and they want to learn and know people are there for them. I think that’s what this program is all about – it’s about Airmen supporting Airmen.”

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