2024 Tillman Scholar

Eric Sowers

The Ohio State University
Ph.D. Social Work

“My honorable service forged a relentless path to transform adversity into advocacy. Guided by these values and upholding the warrior’s spirit to transform challenges into victories for a better tomorrow.”

Eric is a father and a distinguished veteran driven by a profound commitment to improving the lives of fellow servicemembers. Enlisting while in high school and joining the esteemed 82nd Airborne Division as a Forward Observer was a direct response to the tragic events of 9/11. A deployment to Afghanistan showcased his impartiality, perseverance, and compassion, which have deeply influenced his subsequent path. 

After transitioning to civilian life, Eric faced and overcame challenges, including his own criminogenic behavior. These experiences fueled his desire to pursue a doctorate in social work at The Ohio State University, where he is dedicated to advancing research to inform and influence policies and practices benefiting justice-involved veterans. His academic work is driven by a deep-seated desire to understand and improve the systems supporting veterans, particularly focusing on whole health and legal issues. 

Beyond academia, Eric actively participates in various initiatives dedicated to veteran support. He has assumed leadership roles and provided mentorship, sharing his experiences and guidance to help others navigate their post-service lives. Moreover, with a few close friends and his children at his side, Eric integrates their passion for Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai into therapeutic programming for veterans, recognizing the physical and mental benefits these disciplines offer. 

Eric’s service, scholarship, and advocacy culminate in a tireless effort to make a significant, lasting impact on his family, the military-connected community, and broader society. His progression reflects an unwavering commitment to victories within, credibility, and inspiring others to create a just world for all.