AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Navy veteran Regina Briscoe watched the news as the Twin Towers burned in New York City. Little did she know, the Pentagon would be attacked next.
“I remember being in the breakroom and hearing an earth-shattering boom that I’ll never forget,” Briscoe explains. “It’s 20 years later, and I can still remember the sound of the actual aircraft hit the pentagon. It’s vivid in real time.”
Briscoe, a hospital corpsman, was working just down the street from the Pentagon at the Navy Annex.
“Initially, we just stood still and kind of braced ourselves. We trained. We did drills. But, we never had any idea that the federal building we worked in would be attacked.”
In just a few minutes, Briscoe and her team set up a medical tent to treat victims.
“We could triage patients and assist them. We were the overflow from the Pentagon parking lot. The main clinic that I was attached to was actually inside the Pentagon. I saw a man whose body was burnt, unrecognizably burnt.”
Briscoe eventually returned to the Pentagon and went back to work. But, she says life was never the same.
“Initially, you just feel numb. You don’t even realize the changes in yourself until your family tells you, ‘Hey, you’re not the same.'”
Briscoe sought help. After leaving the military, she began speaking to a psychiatrist at the VA.
“Don’t feel any type of shame about it. There shouldn’t be any negative thought with you reaching out to get help and talk to someone. In the end, it could save your life, or you can help someone and encourage someone else who’s going through the same thing.”
20 years later, Briscoe’s emotions are still raw. The memory of the day is still clear. She says she has not been able to visit to any memorials for victims of the attack.
“That’s just a moment you really don’t want to relive. The fact that I’m here, I wish I could have done more.”
September 11 is a day Briscoe can never forget. But, it is a day that shaped her into who she is now.
“We can’t rewind time. We have to live through it. For it to be 20 years, it’s like, ‘I made it 20 years. I’m still here. There’s a reason.'”