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Native American Veterans - Storytelling for Healing

Published: October 3, 2012
Native Veterans

Tips on Using Storytelling for Healing
(with facilitation questions)

Native veterans, from the top: Duane Brookins, Winnemem Wintu, Navy, Vietnam; Hayes Lewis, Zuni Pueblo, Army, Vietnam; Marcella

The audience for Storytelling for Healing is intended to be diverse.  The reader may be native or non-native, a veteran, a family member, or a service provider working in a tribal clinic or at a Veterans’ Administration hospital.  The reader may have years of experience working with veterans or may be a family member trying to better understand a loved one’s experience.  This website is not designed to answer every question, but rather start the reader on a path of learning.  The digital stories and other resources can be used to educate or facilitate discussion.

The digital stories can be viewed by individual veterans or in groups.  For some individuals, it is therapeutic to discuss these events with others having similar experiences.  Additional benefits may come from stories shared by veterans who view the DVD.

The following are general facilitation questions based on the DVD that may be used with individuals or groups following a viewing of one or more of the stories.  The guide begins with general questions that can apply to any of the stories, followed by questions that may be more appropriate to specific stories.

Facilitation Questions:

A number of storytellers spoke about the significant role his or her comrades played during their time in the service.

  1. What individual from the video stands out for you and why?
  2. From your military experience, is there a person who had particular importance to you while serving?  Have you seen him or her since your service?
  3. What feelings arise when you think of him or her?
  4. If you had the opportunity, what would you like to say to that person now?

Other storytellers spoke about the transition from their role as a civilian to a soldier and lastly to a veteran.

  1. What were your roles (e.g. your family, community, workplace, etc.) prior to joining the military?
  2. Did your roles change when you entered the service?  If so, how did you feel about the changes?
  3. Did the roles of your loved ones change during your time in service?
  4. Do you have new roles now that you are home?  How do you feel about those changes?

Storytellers also shared defining moments during their time of service.

  1. Was there a particular image or event from your military experience that stands out in your mind?
  2. What were your feelings when the event was happening?
  3. Have those feelings changed?  If so, how?

Some storytellers shared about the role ceremony played in entering the service or returning home after completing their service.

  1. Does your tribe still practice ceremonies for service enlistees or returning veterans?  If yes, did you participate in such a ceremony when you entered the service or when you came home?
  2. Did you find the ceremony helpful and is there anything you can share with others about this experience?


Duane Brookins, Winnemem Wintu, Navy, VietnamHayes Lewis, Zuni Pueblo, Army, VietnamMarcella Lebeau, Lakota, Army, World War II

Last Reviewed: October 4, 2016