It's been ten years since Private Jessica Lynch was rescued from her Iraqi captors, becoming the first American POW to be rescued since the Vietnam War, but Lynch is still haunted by the chaos and horror of the war.
Ten years later she has become a mother, a teacher, and a motivational speaker, but she admits she still has nightmares about her experiences.
'About every night I have some kind of dream where there’s someone chasing me,' the 29-year-old told the Today show on Monday.
'It’s hard. It really is mentally and physically draining. I’m very blessed and happy to be here, and I think that’s what counts the most, and if I tell myself that I’m OK, I eventually I start thinking, 'You know what? I can do this.'’
According to the Daily News, Lynch, who now lives with her 6-year-old daughter Dakota in her hometown of Charleston, West Virginia, feels relief and gratitude for her rescue but is uncomfortable with any attempt to turn her into a hero.
Back in 2003 America was already looking for a symbol of hope for the Americans fighting abroad. For a time Lynch became that symbol after she was rescued by U.S. Special Forces from an Iraqi hospital on April 1, 2003.
But she has consistently refused to be the icon or political prop that many wanted her to be, going so far as to testify before Congress to clarify what really happened to her after vested interests embroidered her role in the firefight that led to her capture.
Lynch reportedly told Congress she was a survivor, not a hero. In fact, she has needed 21 surgeries since the rescue, she revealed.
'I know that there was a lot of fabricated, misconstrued stories, but I did what I had to do,' Lynch told Today. 'I came out and tried to tell the world what really happened. I set the record straight as much as I can and what people still want to believe or not believe, that’s on them, but I felt it was important to just let the truth be known.'
The truth is Lynch saw 11 members of her company die during the firefight, including her best friend Lori Piestewa.
'It’s so hard to continue every day knowing that Lori didn’t make it home with me,' Lynch said. 'The reason that she went over there was to be with me and our other comrades, and sadly she didn’t get to come back home, so I’m just having to deal with the fact that my best friend didn’t get to come back and I did.
'She had two beautiful kids. It’s just really hard to know they’re going to have to grow up without their mom.'
Now Lynch is engaged to Dakota's father and is reportedly working on a Master's degree.
'I’m kind of happy that we’re finally to this 10-year mark so that I can finally put Iraq in the past," she said. "I know that it will always be with me. It’s nice to make that mark of ‘I’ve made it this far.’ It’s always going to be with my life, waking up every day and dealing with the injuries. I go on and I strive and I do the best that I can."
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore