2018 Tillman Scholar

Neil Vigil

University of Arizona

“For me, the goal is as simple as it is important: to lead a health care team that provides compassionate care to everyone who served.”

The youngest of six children, Neil grew up in a tightknit town of 700 people in rural Oregon. Inspired by examples set by others in his community, Neil felt the call to serve and joined the Army at 18. That decision marked the beginning of a journey that created meaning and focus in his life. Neil began his Army career as an infantry platoon medic, followed by attendance at the United States Military Academy. After graduation, he served as an Aviation Officer and Blackhawk helicopter pilot.

Neil’s time as an Army medic was his first experience in the medical field and the foundation for his desire to become a physician. As a medic, he observed the power of compassion and communication in developing trust between himself and his Soldiers while delivering care. While deployed to Afghanistan as a platoon leader, Neil was confronted with the reality of war and significant sacrifices made by fellow soldiers. It was at this time that Neil knew his calling was to serve these heroes as a physician.

As a first year medical student, Neil leads Serving Those Who Served, a community health initiative that supports at-risk and homeless veterans in the Phoenix community. He is excited to apply his broad military experience to positively impact veteran healthcare. Neil’s research focuses on resiliency and suicide prevention in high-risk populations. Upon graduation, Neil plans to complete his medical residency and continue serving fellow veterans with a career at the Department of Veterans Affairs.