One of the NFL's primary military partners is the Pat Tillman Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting educational opportunities for veterans and their families.
In 2002, Pat Tillman walked away from a $3.6 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the U.S. Army. Following his death in April 2004, while serving with the U.S. Army's 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan, his family and friends established the Pat Tillman Foundation. Created to honor Pat's legacy, by inspiring others to create their own, the mission of the Pat Tillman Foundation is to invest in military veterans and their spouses through educational scholarships; building a diverse community of leaders committed to service to others.
Inspired by Pat's attributes of leadership, passion for education and spirit of service, the Foundation annually awards scholarships through the Tillman Military Scholars program. In 2010, the NFL and the Pat Tillman Foundation established the NFL-Tillman Military Scholarship which annually recognizes an individual who exemplifies Pat Tillman's enduring legacy of service. The scholarship is part of the Tillman Military Scholars program available to veterans, active service members, and survivors of service members from all branches of the U.S. military who wish to start, finish, or further their education.
In November 2012, the NFL and the Pat Tillman Foundation named Sergeant Emily Thompson Schelberg of Towson, Maryland as its third annual NFL-Tillman Military Scholar. While serving in the Marines, Thompson Schelberg was deployed to Iraq where she assisted a Navy Corpsmen on a humanitarian aid mission. It was this humanitarian aid mission, and witnessing the impact one well-trained medical professional can have on a population with limited access to basic health care, that uncovered her desire to work in healthcare. Thompson Schelberg is pursuing her master's in nursing at John Hopkins University.
"Emily's military experience and training opened her eyes to a career in healthcare," said Marie Tillman, co-founder and president of the Pat Tillman Foundation. "She is an extremely strong and dedicated individual who will someday make a difference in the quality of life of her patients. It's an honor to recognize her as this year's NFL-Tillman Military Scholar."
Emily plans to become a nurse practitioner and hopes to serve underprivileged communities. She says her focus will be preventative, nutritional, orthopedic and sports medicine to help change a growing obesity epidemic. She hopes to bring about an improvement in patient health through preventative care in disadvantaged communities.
"We congratulate Emily and are pleased to continue our support of the Pat Tillman Foundation," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "Pat Tillman's legacy will always be an important part of the NFL."
The foundation's Tillman Military Scholars program covers not only direct study related expenses such as tuition, fees, and books, but also other needs such as room and board and child care. There are currently 171 Tillman Military Scholars pursuing their education at every level, from college freshmen undergraduates to doctoral candidates. All 171 of the Tillman Scholars are connected by their desire to improve their own lives while continuing to serve others.
For more information on the Pat Tillman Foundation please visit: www.pattillmanfoundation.org.