2016 Tillman Scholar
Ever since he was a child Jeffrey had a deep passion to serve his country. Joining the Army in 1999, he served a year in Iraq in 2003 where he learned he had what it took to lead soldiers effectively in combat. Leading his squad of soldiers In 2006 during the surge, Jeffrey lost his platoon leader in an up-close ambush, learning the important lesson that genuine care and leadership is not just ‘having the backs’ of your soldiers, it’s providing them the means to be successful in all situations and preparing them for any contingency. Standing in front of his peers and leadership about to be promoted to Sergeant First Class, Jeffrey started to feel dizzy and faint, suffering his first panic attack and the beginning of his downward spiral with PTSD.
As the need for mental health professionals trained in veteran issues increases, Jeffrey intends to become an Occupational Therapist with a focus on mental health and the daily living struggles Veterans with PTSD and TBI face. With a degree in Health Sciences from the University of South Florida, Jeffrey will be focusing his education and training on helping veterans overcome mental health concerns and achieve success assimilating into civilian society through a holistic approach. Jeffrey intends to include nutrition, fitness, and physical and mental health counseling in the restructuring of afflicted Veterans, hoping to usher in an era of change based on his experiences as a patient.