The Friendship Center's Salute to Veterans, Friday Nov. 16th, 2012 - NKPhotography

Retired Marine Corporal Michael Jernigan isn't your ordinary veteran. He is the recipient of both a Purple Heart and a Combat Action Ribbon, and he and his guide dog Brittani are frequent guests in high-profile circles in Washington, D.C.

Michael, a third-generation marine, was proudly serving his country in Iraq when his Humvee was struck by a roadside bomb. He lost both eyes, suffered a crushed cranium and severe trauma to his right hand and left knee, yet somehow he survived.

Thanks to Bethesda's National Naval Medical Center and Tampa's James A. Haley VA hospital, Michael recovered from his injuries and learned to live with his blindness. Shortly after that, he applied to Southeastern Guide Dogs for a guide as part of our Paws for Patriots program.

"Brittani has been an essential part of my recovery process," says Michael. "She is not only a guide, but she's also a great companion when the world gets difficult."

One of 10 wounded veterans featured in HBO's Alive Day Memories documentary, Michael now actively helps other veterans in need. He has been instrumental in raising funds for our Paws for Patriots program and serves as a member of the board of directors of The Patriot Fund in Washington, D.C. He is also a student at Georgetown University, where he's majoring in Government Affairs.

"Michael and Brittani are a force to be reckoned with," says Rita Princivalli, our school's Admissions Manager. "We're sure the two of them will accomplish great things together."

This link will provide more information on Southeastern Guide Dogs, and an opportunity to make a donation or volunteer to a great cause.

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