Remember Jessica Lynch, the young Army Private First Class dramatically rescused after a raid and a capture in Nasiriyah, Iraq?
It was 2003 when Jessica Lynch came to national attention during the Iraq war, and the young vet was just 19 at the time of the high-profile incident.
Lynch was in custody for nine days during 2003 during which time she was horribly abused and raped by her captors. The war was only three days old when Jessica was taken, and she was badly injured before US Rangers rescued her from her circumstances on April 1 of that year.
In the early stages of the war, Jessica Lynch’s name came to be associated with a positive perception of the decision to head in to Iraq — a PR campaign to which Lynch would later object.
ABC’s Bob Woodruff spoke to Jessica 10 years later, in part about her objection to the glorified version of events about her rescue used to sell a war.
Lynch said her conscience wouldn’t allow keeping quiet about the “myth” presented in those weeks and months:
“I knew that, even ten years later, I would not have been able to live with myself knowing that I let those stories escalate and I went along with what those other people were saying, because I knew in my heart that that’s not really what happened.”
Jessica did say that recovery was long, hard, and a struggle — she explains:
“Everything took a while to mend and to heal and I guess just mentally as well and physically… Two straight years of full, consecutive physical therapy of trying to get my back and my legs working again. Trying to get to the point where I could stand up and walk because I was still in the wheelchair when I came home.”
Today, Lynch still wears a brace — a reminder of the ordeal that captured the attention of a nation a decade ago. Now 30, she just graduated with a Masters’ degree in Communication, and has this advice for vets:
“My message is just perseverance. I’ve looked at life and realized that no matter what life hands you, because you can’t control that, just take it by storm and strive on and have that attitude that you don’t want to give up, so persevere and strive on.”
In addition to her advanced degree, Jessica Lynch is also a mom to a daughter named Dakota, six.