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Soldier, pro triathlete, mom: Jessica Jones Meyers’ story

Jessica Jones Meyers

Jessica Jones Meyers is a combat veteran, professional triathlete and most impressively, mother of twins. She’s gone through a divorce, injuries and the difficult journey of deployment and life after. Jessica sat down for an inspirational and raw conversation with Eagle Nation Podcast about adjusting to life after deployment, the life of professional triathletes, chasing your dreams and more.

Jessica grew up running and with strong family military roots. When it came time for college, she chose to attend Westpoint because of her love for and dedication to athletics, service and academics. Although she had mostly focused on running in the past, Jessica started into the triathlon world after she suffered an injury her junior year or college and spent a lot of time in the water because couldn’t run.

Jessica was deployed on January 1, 2004 and served as an intelligence officer in Iraq until 2005. At Ft. Hood, she spent her off-time training. When she returned from deployment in 2005, she competed in and won the Armed Forces Triathlon and came in 8th in the Military World Games.

Because of these accomplishments, Jessica was invited to join the Army World Class Athlete Program, a program that allows soldiers the opportunity to train and compete with the ultimate goal of making it to the Olympics.

Although it is many athletes’ dream to train full-time, Jessica had a hard time adjusting after serving in Iraq. “You think that this is all you ever wanted, to train full-time, but it wasn’t very fulfilling for me. You have this great sense of purpose and it means something when you’re deployed, but suddenly I felt very selfish and almost unworthy knowing what I knew and what other people are going through.”

Jessica says everything in her life looked perfect from the outside. She was safe, financially secure and was surrounded by some of the best triathletes in the world. But it was a difficult time.

During this time, Jessica was also struggling with a difficult marriage. She and her husband, also a combat veteran, were raising twins and both dealing with the struggles of life after deployment. “They was a lot of anxiety and PTSD for both of us. And our relationship just slowly fell apart.” Jessica says that she never thought she would be in a failed marriage. She felt embarrassed and ashamed. During this time, she asked a lot of questions about who she was and who she wanted to be. She had won three professional 70.3 Ironmans at this time but still felt she needed to get to the root of who she was.

She was worried about what her peers would think- what her classmates would think. But through the support of her family and friends, she realized the people who love her are going to support her no matter what. “Winning an Ironman doesn’t define me. And neither does being divorced.”

After leaving the Army World Class Athlete Program, Jessica went on to become a professional triathlete. She now races for Swiftwick-sponsored team Maverick Multisport. But being a professional triathlete isn’t exactly lucrative, unless you’re one of the top tier pros. Raising two twins, Jessica didn’t know if she could continue being a triathlete and also give her kids a stable life. But Jessica remembered being told that if you really want it, you’ll make it work. So she took up a little more coaching and worked hard to make ends meet.

Jessica says that as a triathlete, she is teaching her kids the value of hard work and believing in yourself and your dreams. “I wanted a job that I felt like has a purpose. I have to believe in what I’m doing. Being a professional triathlete allows me to pick up my kids from school every day and be there with them. My kids love to run, love to swim, love to bike.” Being a professional triathlete has allowed Jessica to instill an appreciation for hard work and they see what you put in, you get out.

“Back when I was considering hanging it up, my daughter was upset about it and told me she did not want me to quit. I tried to explain to her that she could probably have nicer things if I quit. But she didn’t care. When you know you’re making your kids proud, you know you’re doing alright.”

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