2017 Tillman Scholar

Heath McClung

University of Missouri
B.S., Engineering

“The Army taught me to fight for my brothers, but my education allows me to now fight for patients’ needs.”

Inspired by the books, biographies, and films about U.S. service men and women throughout American conflict, Heath enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2010. After completing Infantry and Airborne training, Heath was assigned to the Army’s 10th Mountain Division where he worked in the Division Protocol Office before deploying to Afghanistan in 2011 with Attack Company, 1-32 “Chosin” Infantry Regiment.

Months of intense combat in the Arghandab River Valley did not prepare him for the morning of July 24th, 2011 when he and a team member were both severely injured by a command-detonated improvised explosive device. For the next thirteen months, Heath lived in the only VA active-duty rehabilitation ward, having more than a dozen surgeries and continuous physical rehabilitation in an attempt to save a badly damaged left leg. Ultimately after three years of limb salvage attempts, an above-knee amputation became the only option left. Heath credits the positive attitude, perseverance, and adaptation instilled from both combat and trauma in making this life-altering decision easy.

Fascinated with prosthetic technology and their current limitations, Heath is pursuing a Mechanical Engineering degree through the Joint Engineering Program between the University of Missouri-St. Louis/Washington University. Eventually, he plans on pursuing his Master’s degree in Prosthetics and Orthotics. By combining experience and education, Heath is determined to help patients in their own rehabilitation process as well as solving problems like socket fitment issues and affordable prosthetic technology that affect the daily lives of amputees around the world.