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.
Rob Faulk co-authored an article on continuous ways to provide whole-person care across mental, physical, and dietary health, enabled by technology, and has applications outside special operations that was published in the Journal of Special Operations Medicine.
Never knowing his own father, Rob’s 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.
Rob went on to earn his doctorate in physical therapy from St. Augustine University and eventually retired for the Army with more than 20 years of unique military experience, including nine deployments. Today, Rob is the director of human performance at USC Center for Body Computing leading multidisciplinary teams toward innovative high-performance programs, dedicated to the education and preparation of elite warfighters and athletes.
At 17, Kate decided she wanted to be a part of the U.S. Army Reserve. Three years later, she deployed to Iraq. In a public affairs job for the base newspaper, Kate worked as a writer and photojournalist. This ignited a desire to write more about the war experience, and that passion continued after she returned home.
Going overseas and witnessing the realities of war had changed her perspective about life and the world around her. One of the greatest lessons she’s learned from the military is to keep moving forward. A writer, by both profession and hobby, she has contributed to The New York Times, TIME Magazine and Huffington Post. She now works in strategic communications for the Department of Veteran Affairs in Washington, D.C., where she continues to write as a voice for veterans.
Erhan Bedestani was awarded the Michael F. Curtin Pro Bono Award from the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law.
Erhan Bedestani was born in Hamilton Township, New Jersey. While attending Johns Hopkins University, he earned an Army ROTC scholarship and embarked on what is now 20 years of active duty service in the Army. Erhan was commissioned into active duty in 2002, serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom as an air defense artillery Bradley fighting vehicle platoon leader. Ranger-qualified and motivated to continue his service, Erhan was selected for the Special Forces qualification course and earned his Green Beret in 2007. He soon served in Operation Enduring Freedom Trans-Shael in West Africa and later Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
Erhan is now pursuing a law degree at the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America. He is motivated to continue to serve, this time supporting the veteran and service member community with legal support as he seeks to expand his nonprofit Warrior Family Advocacy (WFA). WFA seeks to educate veterans and service members so they understand key aspects of family law and specifically how child custody determinations are made so as to ensure they have favorable outcomes in family court. Erhan saw firsthand veterans and service members suffering from a court system that presented veterans and service members significant obstacles to maintaining their parent-child relationship and was inspired to attend law school while on active duty to make a difference and effect legal and policy change.
Bernard Toney Jr. served as the Commencement speaker for the Lynchburg Doctor of Medical Science Program and University of Lynchburg School of PA Medicine, College of Medical Science.
Major Toney transitioned to the National Institutes of Health in May 2022 after serving at the White House Medical Unit (WHMU) for 3 ½ years. He retired after 21 years of service in the U.S. Army. He earned a doctor of medical science degree at the University of Lynchburg in 2020 and returned in 2021 as an adjunct professor of global health. Toney earned a master of physician assistant studies in December 2013 and a bachelor of science in December 2012 from the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Currently, he is a master of public health candidate at The George Washington University and recently completed a graduate certificate in global health at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in May 2022. His combat deployments include Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) 2 and OEF 3 as the Special Operations Team-Alpha Team Sergeant and senior French Linguist for 3rd Battalion 3rd Special Forces Group, and OEF 4 as the Secretary of General Staff for 30th Medical Command.
Major Toney began his pursuit of public health due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During his service in the WHMU, he conducted 84 domestic and five overseas missions in support of the President and Vice President. Consequently, he assessed hospital systems and witnessed the social determinants of health that lead to health disparities and inequalities in the United States and worldwide. His goal is to partner with cross-sectoral stakeholders to foster equity and impact the most disenfranchised populations on the margins of society.