On June 8, 2016, the Pat Tillman Foundation announced the 2016 class of Tillman Scholars, and this year’s class includes three PAs. The Pat Tillman Foundation was established in 2004 by friends and family of the former Arizona Cardinals player, who died in the line of duty in Afghanistan. The Foundation launched the Tillman Scholars Program in 2008 to support active and retired members of the military and their spouses through a scholarship for higher education.
The first PA named as a Tillman Scholar was James Chally, MCHS, U.S. Army, of the University of Washington in 2015. Now the Foundation has added three more PAs to the ranks of their scholars.
Cody R. Ward, U.S. Army, Augusta University
After graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in Elementary Education, Cody joined his brother in the army. After a series of six deployments, three each to Afghanistan and Iraq, Cody served his community as an EMT and paramedic. Now Cody is taking his love of medicine a step further and pursuing a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies. Cody hopes to use his PA skills to help bridge the gap between veterans and health care providers.
Rea O. Fuentes, U.S. Army, MGH Institute of Health Professions
The daughter of immigrant parents, Rea was the first in her family to graduate from high school in the U.S. In the army, she had the opportunity to work in the burn unit of the Brooke Army Medical Center as a respiratory therapist. This role — and a deployment to Kuwait — made her realize that there can be a disconnect between medical providers and veteran patients. This experience moved her to pursue a master’s degree in physician assistant studies, which she hopes will allow her to continue serving the military community through the VA.
Stephen Skiano, U.S. Air Force, Midwestern University
Stephen served as a pararescueman and was deployed to Afghanistan. While deployed, he also worked hard to earn his undergraduate degree in between flying rescue operations and his other duties. He also took part in an EMT paramedic program while going through pararescue training. Now a full-time police officer, Stephen is working toward his master’s degree in Physician Assistant Studies. He hopes to use his knowledge and training to serve the Phoenix community.
Congratulations to these outstanding PAs and service members!