I remember when I prepared and delivered my TEDx Talk on suicide prevention. The talk included my personal account of suicide behavior and my thoughts on suicide prevention. I rehearsed the talk at least 50 times from front to back and even more times focusing on particular lines and paragraphs. I wanted the delivery to be perfect. I wanted my story and my message to make an impact. When I finally hit the stage, I was a little nervous, but I delivered my talk the way I intended.

As I watched the Got Your 6 Storytellers event in Los Angeles last night, I was reminded of that experience and how important each word and each line is. The words we use to describe an experience shape the way our audience perceives that experience. The words we choose, the cadence we deliver, the pauses we take, our mannerisms during the talk, and many more elements play a part in how a story is both given and received.

The art of storytelling is a valuable one. Yesterday we released an interview with author and award winning journalist Sebastian Junger. In that interview we spoke about the benefits of sharing one’s experience in a straightforward way. Today we bring you a Storytellers alum Phil Klay. Klay’s New York Times-bestselling short story collection won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2014. His book  Redeployment also received the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s James Webb award for fiction. He spoke at Storytellers in 2014 and our discussion with him gets into the art of storytelling, and the benefits of expressing yourself through words, whether or not you end up delivering or publishing them.

About Phil:

Phil Klay is a graduate of Dartmouth College and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in Iraq’s Anbar Province from January 2007 to February 2008 as a Public Affairs Officer. After being discharged he received an MFA from Hunter College of The City University of New York.  Klay’s New York Times-bestselling short story collection won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2014.  Redeployment also received the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s James Webb award for fiction dealing with U.S. Marines or Marine Corps life, the National Book Critics’ Circle John Leonard Award for best debut work in any genre, the American Library Association’s W. Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction, the Chautauqua Prize, and the Warwick Prize for Writing; and was short listed for the Frank O’Connor Prize.  He was also named a National Book Foundation ‘5 Under 35′ honoree.  Klay’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and the Brookings Institution’s Brookings Essay series.

Covered in Episode 58:

  • Got Your 6 StorytellersX events
  • Interview with Marine Veteran Phil Klay
    • Why he joined the Marine Corps
    • Deploying to Iraq
    • Deciding to separate from the military and his transition
    • The value and power of storytelling
    • His routine for writing
    • His recommended books from Veteran authors
  • #VeteranOfTheDay Army Veteran Charles Norman Shay

The #VApodcast is now available in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, and Spotify. Search “Borne the Battle” in your podcast app of choice to subscribe.

Sebastian Junger - Borne the Battle#BorneTheBattle 57: Sebastian Junger – Journalist, author of "Tribe"
File Photo: Honor Flights to Washington, D.C.’s war memorials increased significantly after Labor Day, as D.C.'s fabled heat (theoretically) transitions to a more favorable fall climate. Groups from Arizona, Florida, Idaho and Chicago were some of the first to arrive in the nation’s capitol Sept. 7 after the federal holiday. Honor Flight Chicago celebrated its 74th flight since its inception, with 108 participants including 18 World War II and 90 Korean War Vets, in addition to the required support staff of more than 125 dedicated volunteers. Their day began much earlier than the 6:45 a.m. flight from Midway Airport-Chicago, to Dulles, Va. They boarded buses and drove to the Iwo Jima Memorial where they were met by police motorcycle escort which guided them first to the Air Force Memorial for a performance by the Air Force Drill Team, before crossing the Potomac to the National World War II Memorial. The group toured the memorial until a color guard honored the Veterans with pomp and circumstance. Center of the group, Arthur Kapinus, 89, a WWII Navy Veteran, held the flag-case filled with veterans portraits dear to members of the Honor Flight Chicago family. Art was accompanied to D.C. by his brother Bernie, an 81-year-old Army Vet who served in Korea during the mid-50’s. All told, eight Kapinus brothers have served in the military, mostly in the Army and Navy, since World War II. Their brother Joe, whose picture joined five others in the case, served with General Patton and was killed in Luxembourg in January 1945, at age 29. John Ptak, president of Honor Flight Chicago is not a Veteran, but he has accompanied these flights since 2011, this his 20th trip. “This is my grandfather, he was in the army in WWII. He passed about 20 years ago, so he didn’t get his Honor Flight,” you can hear emotion in his voice, as he gingerly touches the photo strung round his neck. “I didn’t get a chance to take my grandfather, so I take other people’s grandfathers”. SCelebrating America's best this November

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