It was all over 60 Minutes and the news. In 2011, Jessica Buchanan was held hostage by a group of Somali pirates for months after being captured during a humanitarian aid trip. “I am a teacher by profession. My portfolio included places like Somalia, Sudan, Uganda and Kenya. The non-governmental organization that I worked for allowed me to travel quite a bit.”
At a reunion with her SEAL Team Six rescuers Jessica began to rethink her role in the now-famous narrative. “I was the only woman in a room with around 40 of America’s toughest men. We rehashed everything, told stories and I left that room feeling ten feet tall. I spent so much time describing them as my heroes, which they certainly were, that I forgot that I was a hero, too. I walked away a new woman.” Long after the cameras faded and the news cycle moved on, Jessica finally realized surviving is a heroic act of its own.
Jessica is a co-host of We Should Talk About That, a podcast that unpacks social taboos. She says that a key focus of the show is “surviving survival,” which Jessica describes as "finding ways to cope with life after trauma through open and honest conversation.
As an educator and volunteer at heart, Jessica’s work has continued and expanded in the years since. She serves as a family liaison for the non-profit organization Hostage US., has published the best-selling book Impossible Odds, which details her ordeal, and is also a public speaker, having taken the stage at TEDx. “I want to get the message out that we always have hope, even when things feel impossible.”
“[Mom,] I need you to go to God and tell Him that if he doesn’t get me out of here tonight, I’m not going to make it.”
And if the idea of hope is something you don’t believe in, Jessica wants you to know how powerful hope can truly be. “My mom passed away one year before I was kidnapped. But while I was in captivity, the same two stars appeared to me in the same place in the sky every night.” Jessica knew that one of those stars was her mom watching over her, and she spoke to her often. One night, as she was ailing from a terrible kidney infection, Jessica felt herself slipping from our world. She shot up one final prayer to her mom. “I need you to go to God and tell Him that if he doesn’t get me out of here tonight, I’m not going to make it.” That night, her rescuers arrived to take Jessica home.
“My mom was young. She died of a heart attack at only 57 years old. She and God saved me, but I would never wish any woman to navigate life without her mom. This is why the Go Red for Women campaign is something I stand behind with all of my heart.”
Join the movement. Raise awareness. Go red.