Central Florida veteran’s life defined by service to country, community

Joe Tichich spent 35 years in the Air Force

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A career serving his county in the United States Air Force inspired one Central Florida veteran to continue giving back to his community.

Joe Tichich, 68, spent 35 years serving his county and reaching the rank of lieutenant colonel, but after retiring from the military, he decided that he had more to give. A lot more.

“Well, sitting around watching TV, you grow old and get fat and probably be dead in a couple of years. That’s something that I just don’t wanna do,” Tichich said as he describes his motivation to keep going.

Tichich currently serves as the Senior Vice Commander of the VFW Post 1031 on Long Point Road in Cape Canaveral. He also volunteers his time at the Air Force Space and Missile Museum and the Space Coast USO.

“We’re fortunate to be so close to a location where they’re launching rockets on a regular basis,” Tichich said.

As a matter of fact, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket at the same time we conducted this interview in Cape Canaveral.

[TRENDING: Become a News 6 Insider]

Prior to this year, he was the director of the Retiree Activities Office at Patrick Air Force Base and a math, physics and business tutor at Eastern Florida State College.

“If a retiree needed some assistance with finances — they didn’t get their retirement pay in time or the medical side of the house, or any other issue — they would come to the retiree office. The retiree office was kind of the repository of information that could help them get their solutions,” he said.

That’s on top of the 35 years he spent in the United States Air Force, a lifetime defined by service.

“To give back to the community and give back to the military. Because the military has certainly treated my family very, very well over the 30-something-odd years that I was in,” Tichich said.

Tichich was recently honored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Still Serving campaign, which was launched in 2020, and honors veterans who continue to serve their community after they leave the military.

To be a member of the VFW, veterans must have served in a “war, campaign or expedition on foreign soil or in hostile waters,” according to their website.

Tichich served multiple tours in the Middle East in the Global War on Terrorism.

The VFW Post in Cape Canaveral, which has 207 members in good standing, donates to several community programs and charities including little league baseball, USO, Patrick Air Force Base Operation WarmHeart and VFW’s National Home.

For those that think the VFW is just a place where veterans sit around and drink beer, Tichich partially agrees.

“We do that too, but we have a lot of fun helping out the community, as well,” he said.

Tichich said he doesn’t see himself as a recruiter for the military, but he is certainly grateful for everything that it has given him and his family.

You can listen to every episode of Florida’s Fourth Estate in the media player below:

About the Author:

Jacob joined ClickOrlando.com in 2022. He spent 19 years at the Orlando Sentinel, mostly as a photojournalist and video journalist, before joining Spectrum News 13 as a web editor and digital journalist in 2021.