2016 Tillman Scholar

Jay Vinnedge

Air Force
University of Oklahoma

“The military gave me an unprecedented appreciation for the human condition.”

Despite his fears of aviation, war and other uncertainties, Jay enlisted in the Air Force as an Aeromedical Evacuation Medical Technician. A fourth-generation servicemember, Jay saw three deployments within seven years of service, which taught him the importance of applying gratitude for life, and love for humanity in his everyday practices. Having developed skills in operations planning, prioritization, and mission execution, Jay was prepared for his assignment to Antarctica, where his experience was put to the ultimate test when he and his teammates transformed a small, resource-barren clinic into a four-bed trauma ward in response to a Korean helicopter crash that had occurred 200 miles away.

This incident culminated into an exhausting, but successful 41-hour work day, requiring flexibility, quick-wittedness, and teamwork. It required Jay and his teammates to provide emergency care, critical care, and aerospace medicine skills within the same day, which isn’t a common ability in healthcare teams. Jay’s first-hand glimpse into the value of dual-certified Emergency and Critical Care military physicians has inspired him to pursue his dream of teaching in a medical school while working in an ER and ICU, as well as serving as a flight physician with the Air National Guard.