Six veterans will share their stories as part of StorytellersX, a TED Talks-style event at “The Deuce” (World War II Club) in Northampton on Jan. 31 starting at noon. StorytellersX is a nationwide series of talks where veterans are given the opportunity to share their unique stories and foster a deeper level of understanding between veterans and the community.
Veterans speaking include: Tony Boido, owner of TNT Tent & Table & Freedom Movers and veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; Ed Morrissey, World War II veteran and retired police officer from Northampton; Bill Byrnes, Vietnam veteran and community veteran advocate; Dr. Kelly Coxe, a psychologist with the Springfield Vet Center and veteran of the war in Iraq; Gerry Clark, Vietnam veteran and the director of the Town of Hatfield Veterans’ Services; and Tom Pease, Vietnam veteran and the owner and founder of 1812 Paint & Body and VFW post commander.
Patterned after the TED Talks concept, the veterans will share their personal stories of inspiration and success about life after their military service.
The Massachusetts Community Veterans Engagement Board, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Got Your 6 Initiative, and Central Hampshire Veterans’ Services, will be hosting the event.
StorytellersX will provide an opportunity for community members to gain an understanding of the veteran experience, build relationships and connections, and inspire local leaders to empower veterans.
Organizers of the event say that the majority of Americans view veterans as either broken or heroic; in reality, veterans are American citizens who have a diverse set of experiences and stories to share. Veterans are actually more civically engaged — they vote, volunteer and serve in their communities — at higher rates than their civilian counterparts.
“We’re inviting the community to hear our veterans tell their stories and to be part of a national narrative that helps Americans become less likely to relate homelessness, unemployment and PTSD to Veteran status,” said Steven J. Connor, director of Central Hampshire Veterans’ Services and co-chair of the Massachusetts Community Veterans Engagement Board. “Come meet your veteran neighbors and hear their stories.”
Attendance is free and lunch will be provided by Building Bridges, a local initiative that meets each week at several locations in the Pioneer Valley to provide free luncheons for veterans.
During lunch, John P. Collins, the director of the VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System will provide an update on VA services in the region. VA outreach staff will be available to assist Veterans wanting to enroll in the VA health care system.
For more information, contact Connor at 587-1299 or Ben Kaler with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (603) 722-5843.