TAMPA, FL - Michael Jernigan lost his eyes while serving in Iraq when an IED exploded. His guide dog Treasure means the world to him after everything he's been through.
"I'm actually the first service member to lose both eyes in the Global War on Terror."
Neither the Veterans Administration nor the Department of Defense supply guide dogs to service members who lose their sight in combat. But the Paws for Patriots program gives them highly trained companions, free of charge.
Jernigan now works for the organization and helps veterans who have lost their sight or who suffer from PTSD. He says what the dogs are doing for these vets is nothing short of a miracle.
"Not one of our veterans who has a service dog or guide dog has committed suicide. And we lose 22 veterans a day to suicide in this country. All of these pups go through hundreds of hours of training. For PTSD, the training includes hugging."
Jernigan explained, "The anxiety and the panic starts to temper down and dissolve and go away."
For Jernigan and thousands of others, nothing compares to their four legged friends.They truly are man's best friend.