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Monday, April 14

Lynch's extended family told to wait to visit

By Jean Tarbett | The (Huntington) Herald-Dispatch

WASHINGTON - While former prisoner of war Pfc. Jessica Lynch continued her recovery Monday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, extended family members were waiting for the OK to visit.

Her cousin, Pam Nicolais, said she spoke Sunday with Deadra Lynch, Jessica's mother, and was told the family should wait while Jessica Lynch builds strength. Nicolais said it could be as long as a week before other relatives make the trip here from Wirt County, W.Va.

The medical center said in a prepared news release Monday evening that Lynch remains in satisfactory condition.

``The Lynch family remains grateful for the public's support,'' the release said. ``However, their top priority continues to be their daughter's rehabilitation. At this time, they have elected not to meet with the media.''

Lynch has been at Walter Reed since Saturday after spending more than a week at a military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. With her immediate family by her side, the 19-year-old supply clerk is recovering from broken legs, a broken arm and a spinal injury in the orthopedic ward at Walter Reed.

Maj. Gen. Kevin Kiley, commanding general for the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command, said Sunday that doctors would be doing mental and physical assessments of Lynch early in the week and that she will receive other services usually provided to POWs. Her family is staying in guest facilities on the Walter Reed campus.

As of Monday, the medical center has treated 115 patients from Operation Iraqi Freedom, officials said.

Walter Reed got word about noon Monday that it would receive up to six more battle casualties from Iraq in the next 24 hours.

West Virginia's senators will likely pay Lynch a visit when she is ready.A spokeswoman for Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said he would like to see her, but will give her time for healing.

Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., also will wait a while. ``Right now, he is respectful of her need to get well and spend time with her family,'' said Jennifer Reed, deputy press secretary for Byrd.

And the office of Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said the congresswoman is giving the Lynch family some breathing room for now.

(Contributing: Bob Withers, The Herald-Dispatch.)