Second Storytellers hits emotional chord

Samantha Lewis, widow of the late Staff Sgt. Jordan Lewis, tightly hugs a folded flag while sharing her story of loss during the second Storytellers Nov. 19, 2015, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Lewis recounted Jordan’s passing, who tragically lost his life during a training accident at Melrose Air Force Range May 11, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons)

Samantha Lewis, widow of the late Staff Sgt. Jordan Lewis, tightly hugs a folded flag while sharing her story of loss during the second Storytellers Nov. 19, 2015, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Lewis recounted Jordan’s passing, who tragically lost his life during a training accident at Melrose Air Force Range May 11, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons)

U.S. Air Force Destini Yaden, 27th Special Operations Medical Operations Squadron Mental Health element, fights back tears while sharing her story with a crowded room during the second Storytellers Nov. 19, 2015, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Yaden shared a heart wrenching tale of domestic violence. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons)

U.S. Air Force Destini Yaden, 27th Special Operations Medical Operations Squadron Mental Health element, fights back tears while sharing her story with a crowded room during the second Storytellers Nov. 19, 2015, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Yaden shared a heart wrenching tale of domestic violence. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Travis Root, 56th Special Operations Intelligence Squadron, takes the stage during the second Storytellers Nov. 19, 2015, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Root was the first to share his story – of losing a dear friend to suicide. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Travis Root, 56th Special Operations Intelligence Squadron, takes the stage during the second Storytellers Nov. 19, 2015, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Root was the first to share his story – of losing a dear friend to suicide. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- According to statistics from the Air Force Personnel Center, there are currently over 307,000 Airmen serving on active duty as of Sept. 30. Arguably, each and every one of those Airmen has a unique and often powerful story to share. But what if we were able to sit and listen to those stories? What insight would we stand to gain? And more importantly, how would those stories potentially impact our lives?

Five members of the Cannon community bravely took center-stage Nov. 19 at the Landing Zone to reveal some of the most vulnerable sides of themselves; to share their life experiences and all-time lows with a room full of the friends, family, and coworkers – a room full of wingmen.

Capt. Travis Root, 56th Special Operations Intelligence Squadron, was the first to share his story – of losing a dear friend to an often silent killer; suicide; Senior Airman Chip Slack, 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs, spoke about struggling with his father’s alcoholism and leaving him with unspoken words; Staff Sgt. Destini Yaden, 27th Special Operations Medical Operations Squadron Mental Health element, shared a heart wrenching tale of her battle against domestic violence; Capt. Ashley Alexander, 56th SOIS, recounted childhood memories of domestic violence, abuse and suicide; and Samantha Lewis spoke of her late husband Staff Sgt. Jordan Lewis, who tragically lost his life during a training accident at Melrose Air Force Range May 11.

As each storyteller walked off stage, Lt. Col. John Kenyon, 27th SOW chaplain, asked attendees to take a moment and reflect on the story they had just heard. Kenyon, who emceed the luncheon, asked those in attendance to take time and absorb the messages of the brave men and women pouring their hearts and souls out.

The event allowed these five to utilize one of the most basic methods of communication to share their experiences with a room full of people – by telling a story. Basic psychology research has shown that when listening to a story, language is not the only thing the brains processes. Any other areas the brain would use while actually experiencing events in the story being told are also activated; this allows stories to add more meaning to individual lives, while helping form a deeper understanding and empathy between the storyteller and the audience.

Master Sgt. Joshua Watts, 27th Special Operations Force Support Squadron career assistance advisor, who was one of the event’s main organizers, spoke optimistically of its success. Watts measured the overall success by high attendance and the interest audience members showed during speakers’ storytelling.

He stated that no matter how Storytellers might grow in the future, its main focus will always remain on cultivating the resilience of Air Commandos.