TAMPA, Fla. -- The Pat Tillman Foundation picks a handful of military men and women every year who are making a difference in the world.
The foundation was started in memory of Pat Tillman, the NFL player who left his career after 9/11 to join the Army and serve in the Middle East.
“He certainly stood for doing what was right and doing what he believed,” said Board of Directors members Alex Garwood.
The foundation gives scholarships to those working in fields like education, public service and healthcare.
And it’s healthcare where Matthew Jenkins says he found his purpose treating veterans.
“People who I take care of are veterans so it just defines me, and I just recently learned to fully embrace,” Jenkins said.
While serving combat tours with the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan, Jenkins learned the positive effect he could have on helping injured soldiers and civilians.
“It just changed me. That’s what put me on the path to healthcare and nursing and now nursing anesthesia.”
Jenkins is able to help vets at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital.
He’s also volunteered for relief work after natural disasters in Houston and Puerto Rico.
Now, he’ll be able to continue his path thanks to the Tillman scholarship.
“The idea with the Tillman [Foundation] is to see the example with Pat and what he’s done and done the right. I think that’s what they are looking for. People who are going to lead within their communities.”
Jenkins plans to further develop his work with veterans and even become advocates to improve their healthcare.