Wounded Warrior Gets Warm Welcoming
An injured marine is being treated to a trip of a lifetime here on Maui.
Michael Jernigan served with Company E 2nd Battalion 2nd Marine Regiment.
While on deployment in Iraq in 2004, Jerniganʻs platoon was struck by two 155mm artillery shells buried under the ground.
Jernigan was thrown 20 meters from his Humvee, resulting in life threatening injuries.
He endured 30 surgeries in a year, and spent another 16 months in hospitals and rehab facilities.
During the explosion, shrapnel penetrated his right eye and exited through his left eye.
He is now completely blind.
“It wasn’t until I lost my sight, that I gained my vision,” Jernigan says.
It has been 15 years after the attack and Jernigan says he has a new outlook on life.
He is now a motivational speaker and currently serves as the president of the Blinded American Veterans Foundation.
Thirteen years ago, Jernigan co-founded Paws for Patriots at South Eastern Guide Dogs, which offers guide dogs and service animals to veterans. He even published a book entitled “Vision.”
Jernigan also received the “Veteran of the Year Award” in his hometown of St. Petersburg, Fla., as well as the “Ross Perot Patriot Award” for his community service efforts.
On Sunday, Mayor Michael Victorino and Maui County Veterans Council president Janna Hoehn greeted Jernigan and his wife KimberLee at Kahului Airport.
The couple will be staying at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa thanks to Vacations for Warriors, a nonprofit organization that finances vacations for severely injured US troops and their families.
The Maui County Veterans Council also helped cover the cost of the Jernigan’s trip.
“Maui is a chance for life to slow down so we can enjoy the moments and memories we are making,” Jernigan said.