May 23, 2014 – Mount Dora, Florida: I had dinner with Mike and Charlene this week. It was great to re-connect with them. They both view life as an exciting adventure and each has a playful spark in their eye. It hasn’t always been like that for Mike. Both are amazing in how they are each dedicated to being a contribution to service men and women who have returned from war and need help assimilating back into their civilian lives. From simply assisting these people in understanding that their feelings and experiences of re-entry are valid and normal to getting some into desperately needed therapy or treatment through conversations or even powerfully loving interventions; making sure, one by one, these returning Vets are heard and cared for.
Just barely 18 years old, Mike went to Vietnam in 1965, serving his tour of duty as a door gunner on a medi-vac helicopter; embarking on a life long journey to hell and back.
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Through sharing his story, Mike Pergola has helped save lives and families. With the support of his wife, Charlene Edwards, author of the award-winning book, Voices From Vietnam, both Mike and Charlene continue to make a difference for people who so often feel lost and forgotten or shunned by our society. Through Mike’s sharing, he contributes to his own resilience and positive experience of life, something he didn’t view as possible 25 years ago. Through sharing his story, Mike helps heal others while he continues to heal himself. Our stories are our most profound gift.
This Memorial Day, take the time to hug and thank a Vet. Honor them by listening to their story. Really listen. Take a bold next step and request to capture and share their story using StoryCatcher for iPhone, you’ll be surprised at the grateful and positive responses you’ll receive from those ready to do so. Share the link to their clip in the comments section below. Through embarking on this collective sharing, together, we can offer healing, understanding and support for other Vets and their families. They’ve sacrificed far more than most of us can even begin to fathom.
Interview Questions to Ask a Veteran:
When did you go to war? What was it like?
How did war change you?
During your service, can you recall times when you were afraid?
What are your strongest memories from your time in the military?
What lessons did you learn from this time in your life?
Questions courtesy of StoryCorp.org
Learn More About the Book
Through powerful personal narratives and photographs, Voices From Vietnam revisits the emotions and experiences that have defined the lives of the men, women and children affected by this war ― American and Vietnamese ― on the battlefront and at home. It relays how extraordinary men and women who still carry with them the visible ― and more often invisible ― scars of war have sought to overcome the horrors of this experience and how it has transformed their lives.
Blog post author: April Bell is a Professional Personal Historian and founder at Tree of Life Legacies. She has been operating her Personal History Film business in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the United States since 2008. In serving her clients, April utilizes her training in psychology and her innate skills as an active listener to connect with others and draw out their stories and authentic, heartfelt values. She then encapsulates those stories to be preserved and shared for generations to come. She is a proud member of the Association of Personal Historians. Her clients include individuals, families, organizations and corporations who value authentically sharing and recording their personal stories. In the fall of 2013, she and her business partner, iPhone app coder, Urs Brauchli, released StoryCatcher for iPhone, in their effort to present a simple, fun and easy to use tool to provide the gift of video storytelling to the world at large.