Jessica Lynch reflects on life

As she prepares to celebrate her 36th birthday April 26, former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch finds herself in a good place.

Lynch is a substitute teacher in Wirt and Wood counties and speaks to groups about issues affecting veterans and about the importance of leadership, reaching for goals, being a positive person and overcoming obstacles in life.

As a former member of the U.S. Army who was wounded, captured and rescued in Iraq in 2003, Lynch can relate to veterans facing post traumatic stress disorder. She faced the darkness of PTSD that she overcame with the help of others.

At first, Lynch never admitted she had PTSD, she said. Lynch was hesitant to seek help at one time.

Lynch has spent time working to improve herself both mentally and physically, she said. She found herself in a “depressive mode” in which she did not want to talk about her war experiences.

Anniversaries of her ambush and rescue in Iraq can still bring about a difficult “episode.”

Surrounded by family, community and state, Lynch said she has rebounded from her setbacks and is a stronger person. She still lives in Wirt County, where she grew up, and has a 12-year-old daughter.

Lynch said she now knows how to handle difficult times, although she still has nightmares associated with war. “I do things so I don’t have them (nightmares),” she said.

“I am doing great, much better now,” she said. “Now, I know how to handle” the situation.

Lynch said she discusses issues in her talks. “My speeches are intended to motivate, inspire and educate audiences,” Lynch said.

“I have learned that I have a story. We all have stories … of how we have overcome situations and jumped over hurdles,” she said.

In the 2003 book “I Am a Soldier, Too” Lynch tells her story through author Rick Bragg. Lynch was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Prisoner of War medals.

Lynch told me this week she is working on another book about leadership, along with other projects. She is not sure when the book will be published. It won’t be a sequel to “I Am a Soldier, Too,” she said.

She has worked on four faith-based films.

Lynch said she had been “laying low” for a while after all the excitement surrounding her rescue in 2003 and her book.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from West Virginia University at Parkersburg in 2011 and a master’s degree in communication from West Virginia University in 2014.

At times for Lynch it seems as if time has flown by the past 16 years since her rescue from the Iraqi captors in 2003. Like it was yesterday, she said.

Lynch is still undergoing regular physical therapy for injuries to her leg sustained in Iraq. She wants to increase her physical strength.

She entered the military the summer of her graduation from Wirt County High School in 2001, wanting to become a teacher someday. “I truly enjoy working with kids,” she said.

Lynch enjoys learning and going to school. She would like to become a full-time teacher someday.

Lynch said Linda Davies, her kindergarten teacher in Elizabeth, was a role model for her during school years.

On Monday, Lynch had a book signing for “I Am a Soldier, Too” at Serenity Coffee House in Vienna and spoke to students at Frontier High School on Friday. She is scheduled to speak to the Mason County Chamber of Commerce later this month.

Physical therapy and appointments with the Veterans Administration occupy some of her time these days.

Contact Paul LaPann at plapann@newsandsentinel.com

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