Colonel (R) Jill Willig Chambers


Colonel (R) Jill Willig Chambers

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Talking With Heroes
09-11-2014

Interview with Bob Clavert: 



Briefly About Jill - Nationally Recognized Advocate for Veteran Empowered Care™

Hand selected by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen to serve as the first Special Assistant for Returning Warrior Issues, COL Jill Chambers was tasked with pinpointing “Ground Truth” about transitional challenges facing wounded service members and then developing dynamic, real time strategies and recommendations for the Chairman. When hired for the job he told her there were two things that happen when one becomes Chairman. First, the food gets better and second, one seldom hears the unedited or difficult truth about problems service members face. He explained that he was committed to ensuring that under his watch no fallen comrade would be left behind. He then empowered her to work with that end in mind.

Her authentic interest, deep understanding and mindful approach to discovery opened the door to hundreds of hours of unusually candid interviews with wounded service members and Veterans as well as their families. Several of her resulting “rubber meets the road” recommendations helped to positively reset the tempo for change in the oft avoided and stigmatized conversations about service members and mental health.

One of her first discoveries was that the term “Wounded Warrior” is not a phrase most wounded service members are comfortable with. After returning with and offering these findings there was a “follow up” of sorts by some senior leaders in Town Hall meetings. Just as Admiral Mullen had predicted, reports came back saying these leaders had heard “nothing of the sort”.

There was little or no acknowledgement that service members, concerned with how it may affect their career, are very reticent to speak freely about such issues even behind closed doors, never mind a Town Hall meeting in front of hundreds of their peers. You simply can’t get “there” from “here”.

Such is the nature of the stigma that has caused too many of our Nations finest to remain silent in moments where their “strength” or “courage” could be called into question.

The evidence she gathered validated time and again that the well meaning but the often mindless, misguided decision to use labels that encourage stigma during and after transition, increases the burden for those courageous Warriors continuing to give their best effort in hopes of creating powerful futures for themselves and their families.

In light of this and other revelations, she coined and began applying the now increasingly used phrase “Returning Warriors” in the place of “Wounded Warriors”.

Not surprisingly, she encountered resistance for this powerful, simple shift in language. Much of the resistance coming from those who never considered asking how the phrase “Wounded Warrior felt to those whom it was intended to describe.

Jill’s commitment to solutions instead of the all too familiar “CYA” approach that often encumbers bureaucratic decision making also led her to explore the previously unconsidered possibility that proven non-Military medical research and resources such as the work of Dr Martin Seligman (U Penn) in the area of resiliency and Dr Richard Carmona (immediate past U.S Surgeon General) in the area of Health literacy might offer significant value for the prevention of, as well as treatment for Post Traumatic Stress in Returning Warriors.

Her networking and vision laid the groundwork for what has now become the mental health component of the Army’s historic Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, equipping those who are likely to face adversity with tools that will help them positively process those experiences, significantly reducing the likel ihood that any would fall into deterioration on the heels of Combat or Service related stress.
 

What's Next?

In recognition of her rare gifts as a leader and her many groundbreaking accomplishments over 30 years of service, she was selected as the Senior Professional Women’s Association Department of Defense Woman of the Year for 2010.

In 2011 Jill was recognized at the American Legion National Convention for her service towards children and youth in connection with the TAG You’re It High School Assembly program and received their 2011 Americanism Award.

Jill was awarded the Public Spirit Award in 2012 from the American Legion Auxiliary, which is largest patriotic women’s service organization in world. The award recognizes Jill for her contributions that have positively impacted the community specifically with her work in her organization, This Able Vet, LLC.

Most recently, in November 2012 Jill was selected as a “Next Maker” by AOL and PBS honoring trailblazing women whose physical, intellectual and emotional strength have opened doors, opened minds and inspired change.

She joins a prestigious group of women such as Madeline Albright, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Barbara Walters who are the innovators, models and strategists of justice, conflict resolution, problem solving, and contagious kindness in their communities.


Now to move forward

Now retired or ‘relaunched’ as she likes to say, she is recovering from her own PTS, resulting from her presence during the 9-11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon.  Amazed by the abundant but under utilized resources and opportunities available to support wellness and productivity for Active Duty service members, Veterans and their families, she founded This Able Vet. LLC. ™ with the conviction that all who serve deserve to be fully informed and equipped for continuing lives of productive service.  This commitment includes support in the area of Human Resource to organizations hiring our Military Veterans.

True to form, she mindfully chose the name for her new business with the singular hope that the company brand itself would serve as an empowering reminder, for all who have been told they are “DIS” abled, of this one simple truth…


Organizations and Veterans

Organizations looking to maximize the investment of hiring a Veteran may call upon us to support their HR protocols.  You can read more about our qualifications and experience to bring proven tools to your team to sustain this amazing workforce at the Speaking and Consulting Tab.

If you are an Active Duty service member, Veteran or family member looking for assistance with focusing your thoughts or difficulty sleeping and would like to learn how you could find solutions in the privacy of your own home you may want to explore the NeuroCore and Guided Imagery links inside the Resource page.