Michael Jernigan is a Marine who proudly served with Company E 2nd Battalion 2nd Marine regiment. On August 22, 2004 while on a deployment in Iraq, Michael’s platoon was on patrol when it was hit by two 155mm artillery shells buried under the ground. The Improvised Explosive Device threw him 20 meters from the Humvee. Michael suffered life threatening and life changing injuries that day. 45% of his cranium was crushed in. He had shrapnel enter in his right eye and exit through his left eye, cutting everything in between. He had to have two fingers reattached and his right hand fully reconstructed. He fractured his patella and cut his femoral artery. Michael went through 30 major surgeries in the first 12 months and spent 16 months in hospitals and rehab facilities.
Since the attack Michael has taken his second chance at life and turned it into something that is never taken for granted. He volunteers his time whenever it is needed and always offers a helping hand. Since being wounded he has graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Florida, was featured in the HBO documentary Alive Day, has been a contributing writer to the NYTimes.com Home Fires blog and was recognized as Learning Ally’s 2012 National Achievement Award winner. For his dedication and continual community service Michael was awarded the ‘Veteran of the Year Award’ from his hometown of St. Petersburg Florida. In 2006 Michael Co founded Paws for Patriots at South Eastern Guide Dogs; which provides guide dogs and service animals to veterans. He has touched thousands of lives through his motivational speaking, peer to peer counseling and now his work with the Blinded American Veterans Foundation and the Corporal’s Corner blog. Michael’s continued service to others has not gone unnoticed and on November 9, 2017 Michael was awarded ‘The Ross Perot Patriot award’. He has turned the most traumatic experience of his life into a life filled with a new purpose; to help others gain their vision. Michael’s favorite saying is, “It wasn’t until I lost my sight, that I gained my vision”. Too often people solely rely on their eyes to see, but miss out on life’s most precious moments, the ones you can’t see, but only feel. Michael truly embodies what it means to be a Marine, “honor, courage, commitment”.