On Veterans Day, Falls Reflects on Lessons Learned in Air Force


Photo F. Wilson

Isabel Hanewicz, RHStoday Editor-in-Chief

Timothy Falls wasn’t one of those kids who knew he was destined for the military.  Now an AP European History teacher, Falls was attending college, studying history, when started struggling to pay college’s mounting bills. So he dropped out, joining the Air Force for three years.

“I worked with fighter jets, so I got to maintain and work on and keep up fighter jets,” Falls said. “[It] was pretty cool because not many people get the chance to actually engage and participate with fighter jets.”

Falls served from 2007 to 2010, and then returned to college, which was now paid for by the military. He attended the College of Central Florida for his associate’s, then received his bachelor’s from Florida State University and, later, his master’s from the University of South Florida.

Throughout his professional career, especially in his two years Robinson, his first full-time teaching position, Falls used the responsibility taught in the military to help him thrive.

“Working here [at Robinson] and developing new curriculums and stuff basically from scratch was probably not something I would’ve been capable of doing before I went into the military, because I didn’t have the discipline,” Falls said.

In the military, missteps always have serious consequences, a lesson which taught Falls accountability. Before entering the Air Force, he was more immature, unable of stepping up to the challenge. When he left, he had grown up.

“People rely on you [in the military] and you have to rely on yourself and there’s no one there to take your slack, so you have to really do the best you can,” he said. “There’s serious consequences in the military, it’s not you know, I might get a bad grade, it’s someone will die, so you have to really step up.”

The military isn’t for everyone; it is not an easy life, said Falls, but it is one that pays dividends. Patience and perseverance even in the face of a tough career helps one truly succeed, as does the ability to see the beauty in the work.

When Falls got caught up in the negatives, just a look around to realize the magnitude of his job made him realize the value of what he was doing. Serving military changed his viewpoint on days like today, Veterans Day.

“I personally wish we didn’t need militaries in the world and we didn’t need fighting and war,” he said. “But I think it’s important to realize what’s gone on so we can either appreciate the people [who fought] or appreciate the situations we’ve been in so we can either avoid them or commemorate them.”