Medal of Honor recipients meet in Charleston to present Citizen Honors Awards

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Some of the country’s bravest military heroes have spent the last few days in Charleston honoring their civilian counterparts who have gone above and beyond in giving back to their communities.

The Congressional Medal of Honor Society met to recognize the 2020 and 2021 Citizen Honors Service Awards honorees during a dinner at the Charleston Place hotel. It was the first time the event has been held in Charleston.

The Congressional Medal of Honor Society President, Drew Dix, said that the awards bring people together every year “to recognize service and commitment beyond the call of duty, not only on the battlefield, but also at home in the course of everyday life.”

The 2020 Citizen Honors Service Award recipients are:

  • Service Act:
    • Michael Jernigan of North Richland Hills, TX, for his lifetime of selfless service to improve the lives of blind and impaired veterans. Michael co-founded “Paws for Patriots” at South Eastern Guide Dogs, which provides guide dogs and service animals to veterans.
  • Youth Service Award:
    • Zachary Brooks of Summit, NJ for his advocacy of those affected by autism. Zachary founded “Artfully Abled”, an art event showcasing the abilities of those with developmental disabilities.
  • Community Service Hero Award:
    • Women Veteran Social Justice Network, Women Veteran Social Justice Network, in Atlanta, GA, for their work to identify, connect and empower Women Veterans through professional and personal connections.

The 2021 Citizen Honors Service Award recipients are:

  • Service Act:
    • Aidan Reilly and James Kanoff from Pacific Palisades, CA, were chosen for their selfless service as they responded to a nationwide crisis during (and because of) a global pandemic to create a grassroots initiative — FarmLink Project – connecting farmers with surplus product to communities in need.
  • Youth Service Award:
    • Charles(Charlie) Austin, from Brunswick, ME, was chosen for his selfless service for donating time and money to help fund and develop The Warrior Program, a virtual training program for Special Olympics Maine (SOME). As Charlie grappled with living with cardiac limitations, he was determined to stay in the world of sports and immersed himself in helping athletes of Special Olympics Maine (SOME).
  • Community Service Hero Award:
    • The Gary Sinise Foundation (GSF) was selected for their outstanding service to our military, their families and first responders. Now in its 10th year of operation, GSF honors our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need through creation and support of unique programs designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen, and build communities.

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