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, they talk about their life chronologically, focusing on “milestone moments” along the way.

We have a phrase for interviews that go like that. We call them “Just the facts.”

A lot of Veterans we talk to are far less straightforward. They, like most of us, think in tangents, speak in anecdotes, and play hopscotch on the timeline as they recount the biggest moments in their lives. Writing stories from interviews like that can be harder than composing a “Just the facts” life review. But those tangents and anecdotes can be gold when you’re looking for a good story.

In this episode of our podcast, “Steve” did something we truly found delightful: he centered his entire life story around a single friendship that spanned a lifetime. It was an unusual way to tell a life history, but we loved it. We hope you do, too.

Seth Jovaag is a writer, editor and producer for the My Life, My Story project.

By VAntage Point Contributor

Share this story

Published on Mar. 6, 2021

Estimated reading time is 1.2 min.

Views to date: 218


  1. Donita Beck March 12, 2021 at 12:38 pm

    Charlies story was great. I hope he made it to his bday.

  2. Seth Jovaag March 12, 2021 at 11:53 am

    “The Legend of the Staffelhof Goat” — a tale that must be told! Glad Steve’s story sparked some memories for you.

  3. Elena Howard March 11, 2021 at 7:20 pm

    To: Seth Jovaag,
    Thank you for the story of Steve and Hans. I was stationed in Pirmasens from 91-91 (atually a smaller village called Munchweiler). We lived in a tiny tiny place called Staffelhof. Our apartment was a Government rental on a working farm. We became friends with our landlord and enjoyed summer feasts.
    There is a fantastic Goat story that I hadn’t thought about until I listened to Steve’s story.

  4. Seth Jovaag March 11, 2021 at 11:21 am

    Thanks for your kind comments, John. But I have to give credit where it’s due: this one was written by one of our fantastic volunteer writers! I agree that she did a great job, as Steve’s story is certainly one of my favorites.

  5. John Grey March 10, 2021 at 9:31 pm

    To: Seth Jovaag,
    Just wanted to take a minute and thank you for writing and creating the beautiful podcast,
    Steve: Mein Freund.
    All to often when people write stories about veterans and their past experiences, I find they focus on the negative experiences and perhaps the tragedy of war.
    I think this tale of friendship was wonderful and very refreshing.
    We sometimes forget that military experiences very often lead to very enduring friendships.
    I guess when it comes down to it we are really fighting for our friends and the person or or persons to the left and the right of us.
    And the people of whatever country we are there to try and help.
    Thanks very much Seth. You have a very wonderful gift.
    John Grey and Family
    Vietnam 1970 to 1971

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • Should brain injury caused by a blast wave from an explosion be considered distinct from a TBI caused by a physical impact?

  • Seeing a doctor can be a challenge for people living in rural communities. That’s why VA is making it easier than ever for Veterans to access health care. 

  • Over 750 potential candidates lined up as early as 6:30 a.m. Sept. 24, seeking employment with Birmingham VA.