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My Life My Story

Everyone has a story, what’s yours?

Hand turns wooden cube and changes the expression 'this is your story' to 'this is my story'.

My Life, My Story (MLMS) is a VA-wide Narrative Medicine program that offers Veterans an opportunity to participate in an interview about their life story. A concise first-person narrative is written based on the interviews, typically 1000-1500 words. The stories are reviewed with the Veteran and, with the Veteran’s permission, entered into the health care record as a resource for the Veteran's care team to know more about the Veteran as a person, in their own words.

What is MLMS?

MLMS was developed at the William S. Middleton VA in 2013 through a grant from the Office of Patient Centered Care and has since spread to over 70 VAs across the country in many different forms.

The program was implemented at VA Palo Alto health care in 2021. The objective is to allow Veterans to tell their stories and give them a voice in their charts. It is believed that this is beneficial for both Veterans and providers. Sharing stories offers therapeutic benefits and allows providers to know the Veteran as a whole person, thereby building a stronger foundation for patient-provider relationships. MLMS allows health care providers to learn who Veterans are beyond their diagnoses, which supports Veteran-centered health care.

How can I participate?

If you’d like to participate, you can send us an email at or let someone from your care team know. They will arrange for a member of the My Life My Story team to tell you more about the program.

Frequently asked questions and answers:

When will I speak to someone about my story?

If you are interested in participating in the program, the MLMS team will schedule a time for your interview.

How long will it take for my story to be completed?

After completion of the interview, it will take a few days to complete the write-up of your story. Once the draft is written, you will have the opportunity to review it and make any changes you’d like. After the draft is edited, it will be uploaded to your confidential medical records if you choose for your providers to access. You will be provided with paper copies at your request.

What should I talk about?

Anything that makes you who you are!

Some topics to consider:

  • Childhood or upbringing
  • Information about your schooling
  • Military experience
  • Work, jobs, career
  • Family, and other important people in your life
  • Medical concerns, past or present, and how they have affected you
  • Hobbies, interests, skills
  • Anything you wish your treatment team knew about you, but you never got around to saying
  • Topics that matter to you but may not otherwise be discussed during your appointments.

What if I change my mind?

That is okay, we can stop at any time.

What happens to the information?

Once you approve your story, it will be entered into your medical record only if you choose. You will also receive paper copies to keep for yourself and/or share with friends or family.

How long does it take?

The interview itself will take about a half hour on average. It depends on how much information you feel comfortable sharing.