The former- POW’s equally inspiring journey after combat
In March 2003 our nation’s conscious was fixated on the start of military operations in Iraq. Tens of thousands of our troops marched to Baghdad and beyond, and one of those Soldiers was Army Private First Class Jessica Lynch. While many may recall the former POW’s harrowing and inspirational story of courage and commitment, her journey and dedication to service after the military is equally heroic.
Jessica shared her very powerful and personal story as the opening keynote speaker during SHRM’s October Diversity and Inclusion Conference in Austin, TX. I had the opportunity to sit-down with Jessica before her opening keynote speech and asked her about life after the Army, and the challenges and opportunities she’s had over these last 13-years since she nearly lost her life in the service of her country.
“It’s not easy,” Jessica candidly acknowledged as she discussed both her personal transition from service as well as the challenges thousands of other veterans face each year.
The wounds of war – visible or invisible- make that transition all the more challenging. Jessica talked about those struggles, and how organizations need to be both “patient” and supportive as veterans find their place outside of uniform.
When I asked Jessica how important it was for her to continue to serve- more than a decade after her heroic time in uniform she was quick to say how she was both “honored and humbled” to have the opportunity to inspire others, and fulfill her original goal of being a hero- as a teacher in the classroom to young boys and girls.
As we honor our veterans this November 11, and as we support them throughout the year, we should reflect on what really makes them heroic. For Jessica Lynch, as heroic as her actions were in uniform, her commitment to service today is equally inspirational. Soldier, teacher and- as always- hero!
For more on how you can hire today’s heroes please check out all of the resources that SHRM has compiled for you and your organization. Click here for more.