We’re proud of these Tillman Scholars for continuing to make an impact on their communities. Read on to see how they continue to lead through action.
Dr. Jay Vinnedge is opening his own medical practice in Oklahoma.
Despite his fears of aviation, war, and other uncertainties, Jay enlisted in the Air Force as an Aeromedical Evacuation Medical Technician. A fourth-generation servicemember, Jay saw three deployments within his first seven years of service, which taught him the importance of applying gratitude for life, and love for humanity in his everyday practices. Having developed skills in operations planning, task prioritization, and mission execution, Jay was prepared for his assignment to Antarctica, where his experience was put to the ultimate test when he and his teammates transformed a small, resource-barren clinic into a four-bed trauma ward in response to a Korean helicopter crash that had occurred 200 miles away.
This incident culminated into an exhausting, but successful 41-hour workday. In addition to providing preventive and acute care for the civilians and aviators on McMurdo Station, this mass casualty required flexibility, quick-wittedness, and teamwork. This singular day required Jay and his teammates to provide ambulatory care, emergency care, critical care, and aerospace medicine skills under the leadership of a talented board-certified family medicine doctor who held a civilian hospital job, as well as an appointment as an Air National Guard Flight Surgeon.
Jay saw how a well-rounded physician could bridge gaps in healthcare both home and abroad, which inspired him to seek training to become a physician. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine in 2019, and worked as a hospitalist, Air National Guard Flight Surgeon, owns a Direct Primary Care practice, and is the founder of The Well-Rounded Physician, where he hopes to inspire future healthcare providers to seek wellness in the workplace, and well-roundedness outside of the workplace, to better serve their communities.
LeNaya Hezel has been promoted to Chief Programs Office at the Warrior-Scholar Project.
LeNaya Crandall Hezel (she/her) is a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) organizational strategist. While pursuing her Ph.D. in Sociology at George Mason University, she founded NayceQuest LLC in 2020 to guide organizations as they explore, dive into a deeper understanding, and discover meaningful ways to shift our culture to be equitable and inclusive.
LeNaya is a 2021 Stand-To Veterans Leadership Program Scholar with the Bush Institute. She is a classically trained soprano where her music background paved the way to use her voice to advocate and create DEI culture changes. Whether it is presenting to board leadership, facilitating a training seminar, or pitching an idea to potential collaborators, she uses creativity to build equitable communities. LeNaya has over a decade of experience as a higher education professional supporting underrepresented student populations.
Previous to George Mason University, she served as the inaugural Veterans Office Director at Georgetown University and a Certifying Official at The George Washington University. She holds a Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration from The George Washington University and a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Maryland, College Park. LeNaya is a proud military spouse to a U.S. Navy Officer and mother to three spirited children.
William Eisenhart and Andrew Fisher recently co-authored a paper that provides insights on how to best advise military applicants (service members & veterans) when applying to medical school. The article was published in the Journal of Military Medicine.
William was born in a small town in South Korea and immigrated to the United States as an infant with his mother. He became the first member of his family to attend and graduate from college but did not feel a sense of purpose with that achievement alone. After 9/11, he needed to make a difference. He enlisted in the Navy and became an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician, serving overseas disarming improvised explosive devices that frequently killed or injured military and civilians.
He left active duty service, but the drive to serve had not abated so he reenlisted in the Army National Guard. After becoming a Special Operations Medic, he strove to keep pushing forward to practice medicine in a civilian setting. He walked away from a comfortable military intelligence career and spent two years pursuing medicine, completing 80 hours of prerequisites while working two jobs in the medical field to gain more experience with patient care.
In 1993, Andrew joined the Army to fulfill a desire to serve, and in return, he discovered he had something to offer the world. While serving with the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, he took an Emergency Medical Technician course — and knew then that medicine would become his lifelong passion.
Informed by his service as a Physician Assistant with the 75th Ranger Regiment, Andrew wants to help improve prehospital combat medicine. As a PA, he has participated in almost 600 combat missions and taken care of over 100 people at the point of injury. One of the most significant experiences of his life was losing his Army medic, during an intense gunfight in Afghanistan. Then and now, his medic’s death pushes him to continue his service and research to improve care on the battlefield.