Purple heart awarded to NMB woman

courtesy Capt. Katherine Jenerette

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WPDE) - You may know Katherine Jenerette through her political aspirations in Horry County. Most recently, she ran for the Republican nomination for the 7th Congressional District seat.

But in a short time of talking with her, you realize her passion in life lies in serving in the United States Army. Born into a military family she now serves as a Captain in the Civil Affairs branch.

"We do a lot of diplomacy missions where we go in and try to help the populous regain what they lost as far as governance. And so we help with the district governors and his cabinet members to reestablish a government. In that, we also provide specialties like veterinarian services, water projects, agriculture," explained Jenerette.

In 2011, she served ten months in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Her job required her to do a lot of traveling, "You're on the road quite a bit which can be hazardous to your health. IED's (improvised explosive device) and Taliban sitting on hilltops shooting at you with RPG's (rocket-propelled grenade)."

While in Afghanistan, she was injured. Jenerette was in a tent when a round from an 82 recoilless rifle exploded just a few feet away from her and other soldiers.

"I was on my way out the door and had I not hesitated, I probably wouldn't be standing here talking to you. It rung my bell really well. I got a concussion from it," said Jenerette. "If that's all I have then I'm grateful for that because I remember guys who didn't come back with a foot or worse not come back at all. Those guys are much more braver than I'll ever be."

The married mother of four finished her tour. When she returned home she was diagnosed with TBI or traumatic brain injury by a team of specialists at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The injury affected her everyday life, like forgetting where she was going while driving.

"I was forgetting things. I drove the kids to school and forgot I was going to school. I drove right past the school," she explained. "I didn't recognize the symptoms right away. I was nauseous, I couldn't sleep I had headaches. I didn't know if that was from working so much. I couldn't pinpoint where it was coming from and I didn't put the two together."

Jenerette received therapy for six months and has recovered from her injury. Recently she received the Purple Heart. The award is given to those in the armed forces who are wounded by the enemy. It's an honor she's not boasting about, "I didn't do anything different than a lot of people who are more deserving than the Purple Heart than me."

Jenerette said she's in awe of others serving alongside her. Men and women she describes as braver than she is who have sacrificed much more, "they're not self serving, they're serving others.