People like to talk big on how they would destroy ISIS, but in actuality they’re not doing anything except for typing tough talk on a keyboard. That’s where Shaelynn Jabs separates herself from the rest of the pack. This brave young woman doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks the walk when it comes to wanting to destroy ISIL.
Four months after she graduated high school, Shaelynn had her mom drop her off at the airport. Her flight wasn’t taking Shaelynn to her new college campus or to a city where she had a job interview. She was flying to Syria to join the fight against Islamic State.
When Shaelynn learned that militants were beheading people, she decided the world wasn’t doing enough to stop them. “Just because it’s not happening in our country, doesn’t mean it’s not our war,” Jabs says. .
At first she considered sending money, but during her research she found the Lions of Rojava, a Kurdish group that recruits volunteers to join their fight against Islamic State. This wasn’t some rash decision and her mother tried for two whole years to talk her out of the dangerous mission.
Over her final two years of high school, she prepped for the worst; utilizing the internet to learn how to treat combat wounds. She also prepared physically, by becoming the first girl to ever try out for and make the boys’ football team.
The intrepid Shaelynn would travel over 6,000 miles and leave her small town of 7,000 people in Drayton Valley located in central Alberta, Canada for Syria, one of the deadliest places on the planet.
She first landed in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. “It just looked like everything in the movies,” Jabs said. “I was like, ‘Oh, my god, I’m actually doing this.'”
She saw the damage that was not only done to the country and the fighters, but also to the women. So she joined Rojava’s YPJ or Women’s Defense Units, a special women-only brigade that not only handles national defense, but also helps civilian women deal with domestic violence and rape. This is one of the few fighting forces in the Middle East that allows female commanders, let alone an all-female military unit. Jabs was one of two Canadian women at the academy, and one of just five western women to ever join YPG.
Her online training in treating war injuries became invaluable immediately. During an early battle a fellow soldier was shot in the chest, so Jabs grabbed some plastic from her pocket to create a chest seal, to stop the bleeding. But Jabs couldn’t save everyone.
“There were a lot of people that just bled out, because no one knew what to do,” said Jabs. Those she lost in those early battles prompted her to do more than just be a medic. “Instantly I had to go, I had to go and do something more,” Shaelynn told CBC News. That’s when she started to learn how to use an AK-47.
From CBC News:
Once, on a rooftop, she was scouting for ISIS militants, hoping to stop them before they got close enough to lob a hand grenade.
“We were hearing on the radio about every five minutes one of our guys getting picked off,” said Jabs. “My female commander got shot, and then my German friend got shot in the head.”
Peering through the scope on her rifle, she could clearly see the militants faces.
“You just shoot,” said Jabs. “You don’t even think about it. Because you don’t want to die and you don’t want your friends to die.”
“I’m not saying I don’t value life. I value my life. I value all life. But if it is in my path to die for those people, then I will.”
During the months of fierce combat, there were many instances when Shaelynn thought she would die. One time a suicide driver slammed his truck into the building Jabs was hiding behind, destroying four buildings and killing numerous civilians.
“The rubble and debris hit me in the back of my head and my ear ruptured,” said Jabs. She was bleeding everywhere, her head, her nose, her ear. Her shattered eardrum left her unfit from duty.
The 19-year-old learned the hard truth of war, “You have to fight before you can do any medicine.” She had nothing but praise for the Kurds, “The Kurdish people are very brave and strong people, and they deserve the world.”
Jabs completed her six-month contract and returned home to Canada, but she isn’t done helping do more than her part to rid the world of Daesh.
Shaelynn will get an operation to repair her eardrum, and then she plans on returning to Syria to join her friends in arms and obliterate ISIS. If the surgery does not restore her hearing and she is not fit for combat, she said she will go back to work in the hospital.
“I look at my daughter like she’s a hero,” Shaelynn’s mom Brenda said. “How can you not be proud of her for helping people?”
Shaelynn Jabs is without a doubt a hero.