LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. --
The Air Force Reserve is always looking for highly motivated individuals who want to use what they have learned in the civilian sector to serve their country. Everyone has unique experiences that can help mission effectiveness. One health professional shares why he made the decision to commission.
Timothy Falcone, Grand Canyon University clinical lab instructor and health professional, took the plunge and commissioned February 24, 2021, to become a Reserve Citizen Airmen with the 944th Aeromedical Staging Squadron at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. His journey to this new life adventure began late September 1981 in Okinawa, Japan.
“Both my parents were in the Air Force and I was born on Kadena Air Force Base,” said Falcone. “Growing up with them, I was taught the military is a good thing and it teaches you good values.”
After his parents service, his family eventually established themselves in Long Island, New York. At age eight, he developed a love for hockey and thought he found what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. Everything he did from that point on was in preparation for that goal.
“In 2001, at age 19, I realized I was done competitively,” said Falcone. “I had hit my ceiling as far as talent compared to my competition and had thrown all my eggs in that one basket. It was a hard pill to swallow and I was lost.”
Because of his small stature for the sport, he often found himself in the medical trainer’s office dealing with injuries. He learned a lot about the human anatomy and eventually he followed a recommendation from a coach to take an EMT course to see if he would like the medical field after he was done with hockey.
“I loved it,” said Falcone. “I ended up getting my EMT and firefighters certification because my pursuit at the time was firefighting. I was also invited back to the game of hockey to coach.”
During this time Falcone took a long hard look at the nursing career field and the diversity it offered.
“With EMT paramedic firefighting, I would be locking myself into one specific career field,” said Falcone. “Thinking back to my hockey experience [‘all my eggs in one basket’], it freaked me out a little bit. Nursing seemed like a better lifestyle for me.”
Just after receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Grand Canyon University, Falcone had an experience that would solidify his decision to commission and bring his inevitable life path full circle.
“I was asked if I would be willing to provide care for a very high profile client,” said Falcone. “They asked if I would be willing to be with this family during Christmas and I would be basically staying with them and taking care of this patient.”
After taking the position it was revealed that Falcone would be providing care for the late John S. McCain III, former Arizona senator, as a live-in nurse for eight months during the senators’ final days.
“To be able to serve someone that has served so much was absolutely one of the biggest highlights of my personal life,” said Falcone. It was an honor to be in that role for him and not just serve him but to serve his family.”
Between his parent’s persistent guidance and the influence and encouragement of the McCain family, the wheels were set in motion for Falcone to commission in the Air Force Reserve. Falcone stated the wife of John McCain insisted she be there for the occasion.
“Cindy McCain held a small ceremony for Tim at her home,” said Master Sgt. Jeni Laplant, 446th Airlift Wing Health Professions Air Force Reserve recruiter. “It was something I’ll never forget.”
During the ceremony, Lt. Cmdr. Jack McCain, U.S. Navy officer and son of the late John McCain, swore in Falcone and gave his own advice about serving as an officer in the U.S. military.
“Dad used to say two things,” said Lt. Cmdr. McCain. “What will get you furthest in the military and in life is to approach everything with humility and inquisitiveness. Build bridges to asking questions, and make sure that you are never above anyone's dignity. We are all human beings. And lastly, this is my own advice, either be a heretic yourself or tolerate heretics in your command because at some point, if everyone is always on the same page, somethings wrong.”
Falcone will be joining the Air Force Reserve through the Commissioned Officer Training program and will enter the Reserve as a Second Lieutenant. Air Force recruiters communicate they are looking for people who want to be a part of something bigger than themselves and instill Air Force core values – Integrity, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do.
Laplant believes Falcone has the qualities they are looking for and will bring a great deal to the table.
“Mr. Falcone brings a leadership aspect already with him,” said Laplant. “He’s been serving his local communities for a long time and he’s putting all of those qualities together to serve his country. He puts others before himself and that’s an amazing quality to bear. He’s going to be a great asset to the Air Force Reserve.”
Falcone was expected to commission over a year ago but his plans were put on hold due to COVID-19. He volunteered his time and skills to go to New York City for three months to assist in emergency rooms at the beginning of the crisis.
“There were people in need,” said Falcone. “It was a hybrid of ER, ICU, and hospice nursing all in one. It was physically and emotionally draining and it was an experience I’m happy I did. I’m glad I didn’t just look away.”
Falcone consistently wears multiple hats at any given time. From youth hockey coach, college instructor, and nurse, he has proven to have a servant’s heart. He explained how he hopes to gain fulfillment with higher functioning teams that serve but would also like to share his experiences and teamwork mentality as he becomes a Reserve Citizen Airman.
“I’m excited,” said Falcone. “To simply put it, I want to serve my country.”
The Air Force Reserve offers great opportunities, benefits, and experiences. For more information about joining, contact the 944th Fighter Wing recruiting office at 623-856-5339 or email Reserve Recruiting Flight Chief, Senior Master Sgt. Jeffrey Ossman, at email@example.com.