2020 Tillman Scholar

Zachary Love

Marine Corps
University of San Diego
D.N.P.

“Untreated mental illness is an epidemic more dangerous than combat, and as a psychiatric nurse practitioner, I will close the gap between treatment and those that need it most.”

Zach began his commitment to a life of service by enlisting in the Marine Corps and earning a team position within Force Reconnaissance. Its advanced training regimen culminated in an emergency Afghanistan deployment—after only one week’s notice—where he conducted dozens of combat missions including the monumental Battle of Shewan, earning him a Purple Heart. His second deployment was aboard the USS Dubuque, where he played a direct role in the historic takedown of the pirated merchant vessel, Magellan Star.

His wartime exposure to violence, suffering and poverty around the world inspired Zach to continue his service as a nurse focusing on underserved populations. After graduating from Seattle University, Zach eagerly took a nursing job at a nonprofit crisis diversion facility, providing emergency services for homeless individuals facing mental health or substance use crises. Shocked by the number of individuals—including many veterans—that were not receiving adequate treatment for their mental or substance use disorders, Zach desired a position where he could enact more meaningful changes. In 2018, he began pursuing a psychiatric-mental health doctor of nursing practice at the University of San Diego.

In his doctorate program, Zach has constructed a theoretical framework to treat reintegration stress of veterans transitioning into civilian life, and he is currently helping treat the mental health of active duty military personnel through his clinical rotations. Zach aspires to close the gap between treatment and those that need it most, and as a nurse practitioner, intends to work at the Department of Veterans Affairs.