LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The lifelong impact of PTSD on servicemen and women is well documented and a local woman is currently trying to help others cope and heal from the condition.
Jill Chambers' family history puts a whole new meaning on tradition. Her father, grandfather and six uncles all served our country in different military branches.
"I loved my dad so much, he inspired me," Chambers said. "I really wanted to follow in his footsteps."
Chambers served 30 years in the United States Army earning the rank of colonel.
On 9/11, she was working as the military secretary for the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff at the Pentagon and inside the building that day.
"As soon as we stepped out, we could just see that black smoke," Chambers said. "It was coming over the Pentagon, you could almost touch it. We knew something was wrong."
She spent hours helping people escape the building.
"We had to go back inside and start to do accountability and get people out," Chambers said. "We ended up staying out there for about three or four hours until we figured out how to move everybody over to Crystal City."
That moment changed her life forever and her PTSD developed as a result.
"The impact of that day was significant, but I didn’t realize it until probably seven or eight years later," Chambers said. "Nobody had really heard of it at that point. But you have those feelings and initially for me, after going to so many friends funerals it just wears on you."
Chambers set out on a mission to understand the condition and eventually created her website filled with resources to help veterans in need.
If you’re ready to tackle PTSD head-on she suggests thinking about it as post-traumatic growth instead. A phrase she hopes will help flip the narrative.
"It's such a positive thing because you can really take those experiences, like the ones I’ve had, and use them to your advantage to remain healthy, but grow stronger and have more resilience for yourself," Chambers said.
Before the pandemic, Chambers was traveling the country and hosting seminars for veterans with PTSD. She offered tools and advice to empower them to take charge of their health.
Cambers says she hopes to start traveling again soon.