2021 Tillman Scholar

Naomi Koenig

Military Spouse
University of Arizona

“A loving action can heal even the deepest of wounds. I may not be able to help the entire world, but the world needs all the help we can give.”

An active volunteer from youth, Naomi learned the importance of compassion and service from her grandfather, a World War II medic who served as military police at the Nuremberg Trials. Completing her associate’s degree before graduating high school, a first generation graduate, she began helping others as an EMT. Meeting the love of her life, Jonathan, they married and she moved out to be with him where he was serving in the Army.

A military wife with her husband in the field, Naomi became involved in many organizations. She spent time lobbying for improved housing on post, volunteering in clinics, working as a civilian emergency medical dispatcher and EMT she became involved in politics, working on projects and campaigns. Losing his plans of serving for life, Jonathan was honorably discharged with a cancer diagnosis. Naomi worked as a civilian medic and nurse. Her passion was fueled further by volunteering on a strike team during Hurricane Katrina and one of the first to respond to the I-35 bridge collapse.

Motivated to help other veterans and those in need, Naomi and Jonathan started a nonprofit. The sudden death of a widowed veteran friend they were helping grew their family overnight with the addition of several traumatized children. The mental health crisis became front and center. Naomi is a family practice provider in the rural Midwest, serving underserved populations with an emphasis in veteran and Indigenous healthcare needs. Recognizing the mental health crisis escalating, Naomi decided to return to school to pursue her doctoral degree in psychiatry to help her community heal.