2017 Tillman Scholar

Matthew Sherlaw

University of the Incarnate Word
B.S., Rehabilitative Science

“With the right tools, there is no limit to how our generation of veterans can shape the future.”


Matthew joined the Army from foster-care to give back to the community he owed so much. While serving as a paratrooper in the 82nd airborne division, his neighbor and classmate from high school was paralyzed overseas by an IED. It was at his welcome home ceremony in Vermont that Matthew was motivated to volunteer for EOD training.

Matthew deployed to Afghanistan with the humbling mission of combating the number-one killer on the battlefield: the IED. He was soon confronted with the stark realities and human costs of war, finding himself providing medical care to injured teammates and Afghan soldiers. It was during these experiences that he began to feel drawn to medicine. Later, when his own vehicle was struck by an IED, he was treated by military physicians and saw the profound impact they made in their patient’s time of need. This solidified his resolve to become a physician himself.

Motivated by his comrade’s injuries on the battlefield, he began studying rehabilitative science. Continuing to combat the long-lasting effects of IEDs on veterans’ health will be a cornerstone of Matthew’s career. While applying to medical school, he continues to volunteer at the VA, where he hopes to serve as a physician in the future. He believes many of the challenges facing the VA could be better navigated if more veterans were physicians and leaders within the system. Matthew is thoroughly convinced that differences are made one person at a time. He works hard every day to become that person.