2023 Tillman Scholar

Robert Vincent O’Berg

Marine Corps
University of San Diego
Ph.D., Leadership Studies

“Returning combat veterans must overcome divisiveness at home, properly reintegrate, and personify the best of a society they left to protect. May we continually demonstrate moral virtue and remember the fallen to “live a life worthy of their sacrifice.”

When the terror attacks occurred on September 11, 2001, Rob violently lost two paternal cousins — Dennis and Christopher (both with the Fire Department of New York City) — solidifying his commitment to serve others and defend our nation as a native New Yorker. After nearly two decades of deployments with the U.S. Marine Corps, he was medically retired for combat-related injuries.

By pursuing a Ph.D. in leadership studies at University of San Diego’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES), Rob intends for the dissertation to focus upon barriers that combat veterans face while transitioning from service to academia with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and moral injury Through the combination of real world experience coupled with an educational framework, Rob will advocate for change while providing actionable recommendations. His efforts have contributed to the documentary entitled, “Resilience,” which focuses considerable attention on this critical issue.

No stranger to service, Rob was a military fellow in the congressional office of Rep. Darrell Issa while stationed at Wounded Warrior Battalion-West aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California. He worked to assist those Afghan refugees impacted by the withdrawal and hastily conducted a non-combatant evacuation operation. Many of these folks were forced to emigrate and seek refuge in a global diaspora without appropriate visas. He also has championed H.R. 1282 (S. 344), the Major Richard Star Act, which seeks to restore lost compensation for those medically retired due to combat injuries with fewer than twenty years of service and end the “dollar-for-dollar” VA offset from their pension.