VA Presents: My Life, My Story

VA Presents: My Life, My Story

If someone asked you to tell your life story, what would you say? Since 2013, writers from the “My Life, My Story” project have asked more than 5,000 Veterans at VA hospitals around the United States to tell their life stories. With the Veteran’s permission, those stories go into the Veteran’s medical record so that VA health care providers can read them and get to know their patients better. On this podcast, we’ll share some of our favorite stories from over the years.

Episodes

August 26, 2021 10 min
The story that Florian tells in this episode is literally the stuff movies are (and have been) made of. Whether or not you know the history of the USS Indianapolis, this is a story worth hearing.
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A taxidermist who trekked alone through China and made it into a book called "Weird Wisconsin" -- those are some of the highlights of this wonderful veteran's story.
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August 12, 2021 9 min
A lot of people have screwed up, royally, at least once in their lives. They've crashed cars, yelled at the wrong guy in a bar, fallen asleep on guard duty, cheated on their spouse . . . or worse. Sometimes, people dwell a lot on the screw-ups. But in Jeb's case, we hear more about what it means to deal with regret while moving on.
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August 5, 2021 13 min
Many of the veterans we interview are very sick. Sometimes they're even in hospice care. Those patients are often very aware that the end is near. When that's the case, it can really shape what a veteran has to say about his or her life as a whole.
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From sibling rivalries to birthday traditions, Alexis's story highlights the highs and lows of family life. Her story was written by a medical student, part of a growing educational trend of having future doctors and nurses interview patients and write up their life histories.
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July 22, 2021 7 min
Life stories can move at a lot of different speeds. Sometimes, we'll get a "slow burner" - the gradual accumulation of years and relationships and jobs all add up to One Big Tale. Other times, life changes in a flash. Boone's life is one of those "flash" stories.
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July 15, 2021 11 min
Rick's story takes several major turns, but one struggle he faced more than once was the struggle of being alone. There's the loneliness that comes from pain, and from being ostracized. And then there's the solitude some people might go looking for to heal up from the things that hurt them.
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July 8, 2021 10 min
Everyone we interview has served in the military. But why did they sign up? It's a question we ask often. The answer featured in this episode of our podcast is priceless.
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Some people search their whole life for work they love. How many of us know what we want to do before we're old enough to walk?
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Do you remember the first time you saw your spouse? How did your upbringing shape how you raised your kids? Have you ever been seconds away from dying? In this episode, Mary revisits some of her life's biggest moments.
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June 14, 2021 9 min
This story is a good reminder of how "going off to war" isn't just a perilous situation for the combatant, but also for the family members back home.
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In his very long life, Joseph was many things. World War II veteran. Son. Father. Worker. Traveler. And he was also a pioneer who faced all kinds of resistance and discrimination during his nearly 10 decades on this earth.
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We've heard a lot of war stories over the years from the veterans we interview for the "My Life, My Story" project. But because our project focuses on Veterans' entire lives -- and not just their time in service -- we also hear about first loves, broken hearts, and the secrets to long marriages. In this episode, we're bringing you a love story that has a little bit of all three.
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The Korean War is often called "the forgotten war," but in this episode of the "My Life, My Story" podcast, we bring you the unforgettable story of Daniel, who was a prisoner of war in Korea for an astonishing 38 months.

Daniel was one of hundreds of captured U.S. soldiers who endured what has come to be known as the Tiger Death March. He shared his story with us more than 60 years after his release in 1953.
We're...
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August 31, 2020 8 min
For our last episode of the first season of the "My Life, My Story" podcast, we decided to record the story of the oldest Veteran we've ever interviewed. "Charlie" was nearly 108 when his story was written in the spring of 2020. That means he was old even for World War II veterans. By the time he fought in the Battle of the Bulge, he was already 32.

There's something about Charlie's story that captures wh...
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August 31, 2020 10 min
When we ask veterans to tell us about their lives, some choose to avoid painful subjects. And that's just fine by us. The aim of "My Life, My Story" isn't to drag out confessions or extract difficult memories.

Instead, our goal is to give Veterans a space to talk about who they are and where they come from. "What else do you want your doctors and nurses to know about you?" is a question we often ask. For some...
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August 31, 2020 8 min
Most of the 5,000-plus Veterans we've interviewed for the "My Life, My Story" project aren't famous. In fact, when we enter someone's hospital room to ask if they'd like to participate, we usually know absolutely nothing about that Veteran. And we do that on purpose.

Why? A couple reasons. First, we think it gives the Veteran free rein to talk about any aspect of their life that they want to share with their ...
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August 31, 2020 9 min
A common theme that pops up in our stories is perseverance. Anyone who lives a long life will, of course, go through hard times at some point. But for many of the combat Veterans we've interviewed, hard times are thrust upon them at an early age.

That was the case for "Hank", whose story we hear in this episode of the "My Life, My Story" podcast.

As a Marine in Vietnam, Hank saw combat up close, and his re-entry t...
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August 31, 2020 10 min
Everyone we interview for the "My Life, My Story" project is, of course, a veteran. Some of them talk about war -- what they've seen in war, who they've lost, how it changed them. But at the core of almost every single one of the 5,000-plus life stories we've written since 2103 is love.

A Veteran might focus on his or her love for a spouse. Another talks about love for a parent, a child, a brother, or a fellow so...
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August 31, 2020 9 min
If someone asked you to tell your life story, where would you begin?

For a lot of people, the answer to that question is "I was born in … "

When we interview people, we often start there, too. "Where were you born?" is a perfectly fine way to begin a conversation. From there, Veterans might talk about where they grew up, who their parents were, where they went to school, when they got married, etc. In other words, the...
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