I first met Michael Jernigan at the Carter Center in Atlanta, Ga. The Marine and Iraq combat veteran was a featured speaker at a two-day workshop for journalists who wanted to improve their coverage of returning combat veterans. That was back in 2010.
Michael, who blogged for the New York Times, was direct and powerful. He described what it was like to survive an explosion and wake up maimed and blind. He and his wife, Leslie, shared their experiences of the ups and downs of working through some of the aftermath like Michael’s PTSD. They were honest and open and shared with reporters how to talk with military families dealing with complex issues.
I met again with Michael and Leslie in St. Petersburg at the University of South Florida campus for an interview. They were both students juggling classes and life including regular trips to the VA.
I will forever be grateful to the Jernigans. I learned from their journey. Michael might have lost his vision, but he and Leslie have given me more insight than any reporter could hope to gain. This weekend they’ll each be awarded an academic degree, but both have already earned a masters in life.
Filed under: Health - Physical and Mental, Marines, PTSD, Veterans | Tagged: blinded, guide dogs, Leslie Jernigan, Marine Michael Jernigan, University of South Florida St. Petersburg, wounded veteran |