Afghanistan veteran to give DACC commencement address

Afghanistan veteran to give DACC commencement address

DANVILLE — Lt. Col. David Tharp, an Air Force Reserve officer and psychologist who has worked with military personnel both on and off the battlefield, will deliver the commencement address at Danville Area Community College's graduation ceremony today.

Tharp graduated from Oakwood High School in 1983 and DACC in 1985. He was named an Illinois Community College Trustees Association Distinguished Alumnus in 2013.

Tharp is a psychologist with the Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 17 Center of Excellence for Research on Return War Veterans at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Waco, Texas. He was recently promoted to program manager for the residential post-traumatic stress disorder program in Waco.

The married father of two young sons, Tharp is stationed at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he educates airmen in psychological tactics of war and is a psychologist for the Cadet Wing Peak Performance Center. In addition, he is an associate professor at Texas A&M Health Science Center's College of Medicine.

In 2010-11, Tharp voluntarily deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, to gain real-world experience and make a direct impact on the research into the treatment of returning war veterans. He served as medical adviser to the commander of Kandahar Airfield and supervised and coordinated medical assets for 28 countries.

In Kandahar, he was stricken with transverse myelitis, a debilitating neurological disorder caused by inflammation of the spinal cord. But he insisted on postponing treatment and completing his tour of duty.

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