Pfc. Jessica D. Lynch, the injured former prisoner of war, has been inundated with flowers, fruit baskets and other gifts since arriving back in the United States -- and says she would prefer that well-wishers just send cards and letters.
The 19-year-old Army supply clerk, who was captured in Iraq last month and later rescued by U.S. Special Operations troops, said through officials at Walter Reed Army Medical Center yesterday that she appreciates the gifts and that they have lifted her spirits and those of her family and other hospitalized soldiers.
But the outpouring of cards, candy, stuffed animals, T-shirts, fruit baskets, flowers and other get-well presents from around the world has "put a strain on the hospital's postal, medical and support staff," according to a statement released by the hospital.
Lynch, who was flown to Washington on Saturday, is being treated for several broken bones at Walter Reed's orthopedic unit. She underwent three operations in Germany, including surgery for a fractured vertebra in her lower back. Doctors have said she has fractures in her upper right arm, upper left leg, lower left leg and right ankle and foot.
The hospital said yesterday that Lynch, who is from Palestine, W.Va., remains in satisfactory condition and is undergoing rehabilitation. She is one of 29 battle casualties at the hospital, most of whom are in satisfactory or good condition. An additional 19 soldiers are being treated at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.
The hospital statement said that Lynch "has expressed that those who would like to communicate their support and pass along their hopes for her speedy recovery send cards and letters in lieu of gifts and flowers."
The hospital said that it has not redirected any of the gifts sent to Lynch but that the Lynch family has been sharing the flowers, food items and stuffed animals with other patients.
Some well-wishers also sent Lynch their military ribbons and medals as well as pins and coins, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
The family has suggested that people who want to do more for former POWs or other wounded soldiers send contributions to such military charities as Army Emergency Relief, Air Force Aid Society, Navy & Marine Corps Aid Society, American Red Cross, the United Services Organization and the Fisher House Foundation.
Cards and letters for Lynch should be addressed to Pfc. Jessica Lynch, c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 6900 Georgia Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20307-5001. She is receiving all of her mail, the hospital said.
Personal mail for other members of the Lynch family should be sent to them at the post office in Palestine, W.Va., 26160. No other address for the hamlet is necessary, the hospital said.
Lynch and five members of her supply convoy were taken prisoner March 23 when the convoy took a wrong turn in the Iraqi desert and came under attack. All were later rescued by U.S. forces.
Walter Reed has treated 123 patients, including 68 battle casualties, since the war with Iraq began last month.