A Blinded Marine Gives Insight, Earns a Degree

Michael Jernigan. Photo courtesy of St. Petersburg Times, now the Tampa Bay Times.

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.



3 Responses

  1. Michael, I understand your live is not easy, but You have eyes of heart and mind and this done the possibility to see on different manner. Difficulties are more, but love for live consent to surmont them, to live day by day, time by time. More peolple see you as a man like others, as no differences exist other than a lesson we receive by a person whose problem are not impediment but a challenge. We, on the contrary, have difficulties for any little thing, that seem insormontable.
    Thanks for this lesson and be sure we are with you ever. Claudio Alpaca

  2. This young man is how you spell courage!

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