2016 Tillman Scholar
Never knowing his own father, Rob initial motivation for military service was to be a father that his children could look up to. During his youth, his mother was sent to prison when he was five years old, leaving Rob and his sister scattered between foster homes without a consistent positive figure to emulate. By enlisting as an Army medic, he wanted to pursue a career that would make a positive difference in the world and provide his own children with a healthy environment in which to flourish.
Following his tour after 9/11, Rob wanted to have a greater impact in the lives of soldiers and their families while deployed and at home. Passionate about helping injured and wounded soldiers recover, he was drawn to physical therapy and started the Amputee Program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. There, he learned the most significant lesson of military service, that true leadership has little to do with titles, but instead constitutes how someone lives, deals with adversity, influences others and strives to become better. At Walter Reed, he was ceaselessly inspired by the determined pursuit of excellence in his patients, and he started taking night and weekend community college courses to advance his own training as a rehabilitation expert.
By pursuing his doctorate in physical therapy, Rob is now focused on learning the foundation of care: injury prevention programs. While the military undertakes a certain level of unavoidable injury risk, he believes it’s critical that as we find ways to help the Army’s elite soldiers become stronger, faster, and more technically and tactically efficient, we must also ensure that we educate them on how to prevent injury, how to self-treat when necessary, how do identify in themselves and their teammates the early stages of decreased performance and mental focus, and how to recover from physical, emotional, and mental stressors. After completing his doctorate, Rob will continue serving within the U.S. Army as a noncommissioned officer. Though qualified to become an officer, he is committed to staying with the Army’s elite soldiers, even at the sacrifice of higher rank.