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Former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch was in East Tennessee Thursday to help celebrate veterans.

Lynch took part in the Dixie Stampede's "Saluting America's Heroes" ceremony in Pigeon Forge, then met with veterans.

The former Army private is the first American prisoner of war to be rescued since the Vietnam War. Lynch was taken prisoner during an ambush in Iraq 10 years ago, only days into the war. She was held by Iraqi soldiers at a hospital until US special forces rescued her.

Lynch says her capture and the long recovery from the injuries she received taught her the importance of perseverance, and that's a message she likes to share with others.

"People face struggles, they have obstacles in their life, you know, deal with things that they must overcome. Whether it's something simple or something major. So I really like to hit that, just talk about whatever you're fearing, your obstacle, you can strive on and overcome it," said Lynch.

Lynch was honorably discharged from the military four months after her rescue. She is now a teacher and a motivational speaker.

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