2016 Tillman Scholar

Richard Alexander

Air Force
University of Utah

“I hope to spend my life preventing utter hopelessness and fear I saw that day.”

Always possessed by a love for the outdoors, adventure, rescue and emergency medicine, Richard – an EMT and volunteer with his local fire department – was preparing for paramedic school just as the wars began in Afghanistan and Iraq. Driven by an increasing desire to serve in the military, he enlisted in the Air Force to pursue training as an elite Pararescueman. During his deployments overseas, he witnessed the pain that war inflicts on both sides of the battlefield, rendering care to fellow service members, local Afghans and even captured insurgents and their frightened children. In the process, Richard has learned how to provide compassionate care under stressful circumstances with limited hands and medical resources. Today, these collective experiences are driving him to pursue medical school at the University of Utah, so he can more effectively help those in need within his own community and around the world.

After medical school, Richard plans to continue his service in the National Guard while supporting his community as an Emergency Physician, focusing heavily on improving access to quality care because he realizes that visits in the emergency setting may be the only opportunity some patients have to receive compassionate medical care. Outside of his military duties, he also plans to stay heavily involved with regional, national and international aid work and disaster relief through organizations like Team Rubicon and Remote Area Medical (RAM). As a Pararescueman, with five years of active duty service and seven years of Guard service, he believes he is uniquely trained to serve others in their hour of need in the most remote and non-permissive environments.