Jacket Notes | 'Unequivocal' by Jaco van Gass

In his autobiography, Jaco van Gass shares how at 23, he was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan in 2009

24 March 2024 - 00:00 By Jaco van Gass
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Unequivocal by Jaco van Gass.
Unequivocal by Jaco van Gass.
Image: Supplied

My inspiration for writing Unequivocal was to tell my story in more detail, to help others who face adversity, and to show them that anything is possible even beyond your darkest days. I found it therapeutic to get my story onto paper, but it was hard to relive some of these moments and see them from the point of view of my family and friends.

It was difficult to listen to the hurt my loved ones went through, especially for the other soldiers who were with me on the ground the night I got injured. We never discussed what it had been like for them, and I can only hope I’ve gone on to make them proud.

What surprised me about reflecting on my journey, was how quickly I was able to recover and be out of hospital, learning to walk and run again. During the time it felt very long and when I look back over my story, I realise that it all happened quite quickly. I think that can be a lesson for so many things in life: when you’re facing hardship, it feels never-ending, it’s only when you reflect that you realise it’s just a chapter in your story and you can start to understand why it happened and what you can learn from it.

My experiences have enabled me to go on to become a motivational speaker and speak to people about resilience, challenges and achieving goals. During my recovery, I never thought that one day I’d be able to help others by sharing my story. This was  further inspiration to write Unequivocal  because, after my talks, I was often asked if I had written a book. This is how the seed was planted. I started to work with a ghostwriter, Eleanor Updegraff, who interviewed me and those around me to piece together all the key parts of my life to date.

It was funny to discover things about my journey that no-one had told me until they were interviewed for the book. For example, when I arrived at the first interview for the selection process  for the North Pole team the guys couldn’t believe that I thought it was possible in the state I was in. They thought I was far too injured, but they never expressed that to me at the time and today we can laugh about it. Not being selected initially helped to speed up my recovery as I knew I wanted to be part of that team and it motivated me to work harder to be fit enough to go. I wanted to prove to people that I was going to be OK.

All in all, I hope Unequivocal inspires you to go on to achieve all the things that you have never even dreamed of. To know that hardship is part of the process but not to let it hold you back. Your dark days make you stronger and they make you who you are.

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