2018 Tillman Scholar

Ashley Thomas

Belmont University

“It is my honor and pledge as a physical therapist to educate others to embrace personal responsibility for mental and physical health.”

Married to a Special Forces Green Beret, Ashley witnessed humble sacrifices these American men selflessly conducted. “De Oppresso Liber” (to liberate the oppressed) adorned stickers and posters throughout every room of their home and windows of vehicles. It was only a matter of time before Ashley felt the pull of service on her own heart.

Ashley became an air assault helicopter pilot in order to be the most direct support to our ground forces. She deployed with 4-101st Airborne Division to FOB Wolverine, Afghanistan in support of OEF XI-XII as a UH-60 pilot. During Operation Atlantic Resolve-Latvia, Ashley operated as pilot-in-command, Air Mission Commander and Aviation Safety Officer with 4-3 AHB.

Humbled to have been afforded the opportunity to serve as a U.S. Army Warrant Officer for nine years, Ashley simultaneously pursued her educated by completing all prerequisites to attend a Doctorate of Physical Therapy program. Her interest in physical therapy developed as she mentored soldiers in developing their health and wellness.

Maneuvering into civilian education, armed with Army values and combat experiences, Ashley refocused her life; drawing on military service to become a provider for those in need. Ashley’s warrior spirit drives her to ignite community with motivation and personal responsibility of self; a protocol too often ignored in health care. Ashley espouses a respective vision of “De Oppresso Liber.”