Total Force Airmen host Storytellers forum at Pease

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Curtis J. Lenz
  • 157th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Total Force Airman from the 157th Air Refueling Wing gathered at the Loy Auditorium here to participate in an Air Force Storytellers forum.

Storytellers is a resiliency forum where Airmen discuss life changing experiences, extreme circumstances, family stress and professional distress and having or finding the resiliency and strength to overcome them.

"Storytellers is a way of getting a broader spectrum of resiliency so you're not just focused on suicide prevention or sexual assault," said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Todisco, 64th Air Refueling Squadron unit deployment manager and co-organizer of the event. "It puts a real face into the unit."

Todisco, who organized the event along with Staff Sgt. Thomas S. Cline, is hopeful the event is held bi-annually.

The first Storytellers event happened in 2012 at Incirlik Air Base. According to the base's website, the idea came from members of the Incirlik Toastmasters Club following Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III's open-ended question, "Every Airman has a story. What's yours?" 

Since then, Storytellers has spread to other bases throughout the Air Force.

According to Todisco, the event is something tangible that Airmen may relate to when they see those they know speaking on the topic.

"You're not watching a video, not being briefed by PowerPoint ... you're seeing the effects it had on real person," he said. "It's teaching you how to deal with those issues by taking something that they did and seeing how they got through it." 

As outlined in the Air Force vision, "every Airman, regardless of specialty, must understand and be able to explain how they contribute to producing unparalleled airpower for our nation.  Each Airman has a compelling story that needs to be told. Tell your story. Let your fellow Americans know that their Air Force provides Global Vigilance, Global Reach, and Global Power to defend our great nation. Airmen should be proud of who they are, what they do, and how well they accomplish the mission."

Donald J. Roussel, the wing's director of Psychological Health, himself once an Airman at Loring Air Force Base, Maine, and Torrejon Air Base, Spain, spoke about the loss of his mother.

"It's a way of working through some struggles," he said. "It touches upon some aspects of your own personal journey as a human being."

Speakers emphasized the fact that Airman are not alone.

"We all have to overcome storms and strife in life" added Roussel.

Other speakers included Master Sgt. Kevin Reiter, who discussed stress; Master Greg Friend, who spoke about the loss of his father and depression; and Tech. Sgt. Jamie Marier, who addressed marital problems, financial challenges and having open heart surgery.

"There is incredible power in talking about your situation, your story of life and each time there is a revision that happens," said Roussell.  "We're able to consolidate, make more sense and gain some strength from it."

Visit the following pages on the 157 ARW public website for further information or contact information: Airman and Family Readiness Program, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program, Military One Source, Chaplain or Psychological Health Program.