2023 Tillman Scholar

Jessica Atherton

Walden University
M.S.N., Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

“Narrative medicine and collective healing can change lives. I will provide the tools and space to implement this within aN integrative mental health practice as a future nurse practitioner.”

Jessi enlisted in the Army National Guard in 2002 to finish college and answer the call to serve her country. After completing basic and advanced training she returned to college to complete a degree in community health education. Prior to graduation, she received deployment orders in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Jessi served as a logistical specialist and crossed trained as a combat lifesaver (CLS). After sustaining an injury in the country, she was medically evacuated to Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Jessi was impacted by providing CLS and the medical care she received going through the medical discharge process. 

After discharge, Jessi returned to college to pursue a bachelor of science in Nursing. During school, Jessi experienced struggles with depression and anxiety. She also lost her biological mother, who also suffered from mental illness and addiction. These experiences led her to focus her career on mental health nursing. Working as a registered nurse for the last decade, she sees the need for more advanced mental health providers. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner to advance her clinical practice. 

Jessi is involved in Warrior Writers, a nonprofit that helps veterans tell their stories through poetry and prose. She also writes poetry. Jessi has seen firsthand the impact of narrative healing and how it positively affects mental health. She plans to work towards integrating narrative healing and blending multiple modalities to provide person-centered trauma informed care to the clients and community she serves.