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An Army Medical Discharge for Lynch

August 28, 2003|From Times Wire Services

WASHINGTON — Jessica Lynch, the injured Army private and prisoner of war who was retrieved from an Iraqi hospital by American commandos, has been discharged from the military, the Army said Wednesday.

"She's been medically retired" because of disability from injuries, said Beverly Chidel, a spokeswoman at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Chidel said that Lynch, 20, was honorably discharged Friday after returning to the medical center from a month's leave and would remain eligible for any required future medical treatment at military hospitals even though she did not serve the 20 years usually required for military retirement.

"When you're injured in war, no matter how many years you have served, you are usually medically retired, because you can't be on active duty anymore if you're not deployable," Chidel said.

Lynch was given a hero's welcome when she returned to her hometown of Palestine, W. Va., on July 22.

The medical discharge clears the way for Lynch to pursue possible book or movie deals about her ordeal, said her attorney, Stephen Goodwin. Though she has not spoken publicly about her ordeal, Lynch has said through a spokesman that she plans to tell her story in a book to be published by the end of the year. "Like any citizen, she is now free to enter into a contract," Goodwin said.

Lynch suffered multiple broken bones and other injuries when her 507th Maintenance Company was ambushed March 23 in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah. Her rescue on April 1 made a celebrity out of Lynch, who joined the Army to get an education and become a kindergarten teacher.

Lynch will continue physical therapy at Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital in Parkersburg, W. Va. She can walk with crutches and is still recovering, Goodwin said.

Goodwin said Lynch had not signed a book deal with anyone as of Wednesday, although Pulitzer Prize-winning author and former New York Times reporter Rick Bragg has been a guest at the Lynch home to do research. The Times has reported Bragg will be paid $1 million to tell Lynch's story.

NBC plans a TV movie starring Laura Regan that has been developed without Lynch's authorization. CBS abandoned its plans for a Lynch movie.

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