Haynes, a native of Albany, Georgia, vowed to serve his country after watching the horrific events of September 11th, 2001 in his high school JROTC classroom. In 2004, he earned a scholarship to Georgia Military College and was later commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He deployed to Afghanistan, having to leave his then-pregnant wife, Chelsea, and their two children.
During a mission in Kabul on August 5th, 2014, Haynes was shot four times by an Afghan Military Soldier. At the time, Haynes was serving as aide to Maj. Gen. Harold Greene, who did not survive the attack. Haynes was evacuated to Germany, then Walter Reed Military Medical Center, where he woke up to his wife beside him.
One of the shots was to his back, injuring his spine. He suffered a severed vena cava and 80% of the nerves to his lower extremities, leaving both of his legs paralyzed. Needing multiple surgeries, Haynes faced an excruciating and long recovery. At one point, he wrote, “I WILL WALK AGAIN” on a piece of paper and stared at it every day. After months of physical therapy and with Chelsea encouraging and inspiring him, he finally stood and took his first steps in November 2014. Now, Haynes can stand and walk for short periods of time with the help of adaptive equipment.
Discussing how he kept pushing himself and continues to do so every day, Haynes said:
“I tell myself, “Hey, you have to live on for [Col. Greene], you have to live on for those who can’t be here today, who wish they were. Those who died in a foreign land. They died serving a great country. They need to be honored, and me having pity parties or saying what I can’t do anymore, I told myself, “Jeremy, throw all that in the trash.” Those guys died so you could be here, living and having the freedoms we often take for granted. God has granted you an opportunity to walk on this earth again. “
During his extensive military career, Haynes has been honored with a multitude of awards, including: the Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraqi Freedom Campaign Medal, Combat Action Badge, Senior Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Parachute Rigger Badge, German Jump Wings, and the Norwegian 30K Road Mark Badge.
Haynes was a recent recipient of a specially adapted smart home, courtesy of the R.I.S.E. program of the Gary Sinise Foundation. This home will allow Jeremy to live more independently and improve his quality of life.
“The one thing that stood out for me is those few inches in a door,” said Haynes. “For the average person it may mean little, but to me, having those few inches allows me the ability to navigate my wheelchair into my kids’ rooms; to be able to pray with them, kiss them goodnight, read them a bedtime story, and tuck them in. That itself, in my opinion, is the greatest feature of this home.”
The Gary Sinise Foundation will receive this month’s donation on behalf of Haynes and his family.