Nearly 45 years ago, Jim Chancellor's helicopter was shot down in Vietnam.
A crew chief/door gunner for the U.S. Army, Chancellor was awarded a Purple Heart and a heroism medal for valor, but his personal war didn't end there.
Like millions of others in the United States, Chancellor, of Lowell, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. Though his stems from his experiences in war as a soldier, PTSD can affect anyone who has gone through a traumatic event in life.
In fact, according to the National Center for PTSD, about 7 percent to 8 percent of the population will have PTSD at some point in their lives.
For Chancellor, 66, recognizing his symptoms and the fallout from his PTSD didn't come easy. As a veterans' advocate, he was speaking at Indiana University when during the closing question-and-answer session, a mental health expert asked him several questions. This led Chancellor to disclose he was self-employed, worked as many as 60 hours a week, had suffered from drug and alcohol addictions during his lifetime, and had been married and divorced three times.
After the mental health expert asked, "Do you think Vietnam has influenced your life?" Chancellor responded that he felt it hadn't.
"When I said no, the entire student body burst into laughter," he recalls. "Then my friend said, 'This is your typical Vietnam veteran. He will give his heart and soul for others, but won't look into the mirror.'"
Now Chancellor is working toward bringing awareness to PTSD by holding workshops and meeting with veterans so others know they don't have to suffer alone.
"I want our youth, who will be our decision-makers of tomorrow, to know the true cost of war," he says. "Every day there are 22 veterans, who were willing to put their lives on the line so we can enjoy the freedoms that we do, who commit suicide."
While it is normal to have stress reactions after a traumatic event, according to the National Center for PTSD, stress should ease and get better in time. If the traumatic event still causes great distress after three months and disrupts work or home life, a person should seek help.