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Jill Chambers – Sleep

So there I was….the summer of 2011 in Iraq traveling with Country Star Michael Peterson for 18 days all over the country as he brought a little of home to our amazing Service Members.

His last show took place at the Ministry Of Defense (MOD), not far from downtown Baghdad. Over the last 2 weeks we had been shot at, chased, and even had the roof blown off of the building he was playing in - we'd been through a lot. Sleep didn't come easily at all during this whole time, but we were going home soon, so I figured I could just gut out these last couple of days in Iraq.

Hours prior to his last show an IED (improvised explosive device) had exploded just outside the gate to Camp Victory where all guests stay when they come to Iraq. Going out of that gate was our initial planned route to head to the show. Several soldiers were killed that morning and the stress was overwhelming…for everyone.

We ended up taking an Apache helicopter to get to the Soldiers at the MOD. They were thrilled to have Michael there (apparently they had not had anyone from the States ever visit them and bring some entertainment during their entire deployment, which had been almost a year.

Prior to the show we ate dinner on the roof - strange, to say the least. We had sharpshooters in all four corners of the roof, and we had to eat with our heads down. Good grief I was stressed to the max!

Once the show was over we were told we could not leave. No one could drive to come and pick us up - it was way too dangerous on the streets of Baghdad, and the weather made it impossible for helicopters to be flying.

We were there for the night.

Michael and I ended up staying on the second floor of a makeshift 2-story building. each of us in a room the size of a tiny closet. And all 40 Soldiers were in each of their tiny closets too! By 1:00 am I was so stressed from hearing explosions for the last 2 hours, I could not for the life of me even close my eyes.

Then I remembered I had loaded Belleruth's Guided Imagery for Healthful Sleep on my iPhone. I had been using Guided Imagery to help me sleep for over 2 years for my nightmares from being in the Pentagon during 9/11, and thought, "Wow, what a time to use it here in an actual war zone."

It worked - and it worked perfectly. I was able to slide out of stress mode, and my attention shifted from explosions to restful sleep. I was out for the next 5 hours and fully functional the next day, with much less stress and fatigue.

So after 30 years of Army service and all the crazy jobs, moves, exhaustion, and stress - oh how I wish I would have had Guided Imagery then! The journey would have been so much smoother! I am happy to tell any Service member and their families - this is a must for their toolkit !! 

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