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Ali Joseph estimates she’s helped deliver nearly 240 babies.

A 1st Lt. in the United States Air Force, the Scottsdale native has served as a labor and delivery nurse for the last four years at Eglin Air Force Base Hospital in Destin, Florida.

Since becoming an active duty service member in 2013, Joseph, whose husband, Tommy, is the Phillies’ first baseman, has dedicated her days to helping bring new life into the world. 

“I just had this desire to serve, and I’m a patriot at heart and thought there’s no better population I could serve,” Ali Joseph said. “I felt like it was part of my duty to the country.

“How cool is it to bring these babies into the world for service members who are willing to sacrifice everything for us? To be a small part of that experience for them is a really neat thing for me. I love every single delivery I do.”

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Tommy’s admiration and pride for his wife is evident the moment he starts talking about her accomplishments and desire to help others. He can’t help but smile, calling her fearless and selfless.

In addition to her military service, Ali has been a support system for Tommy through trades, seven different minor league cities and his multiple concussions.

It wasn’t always easy, but the Josephs became each other’s rock as they pursued their dreams.

They started dating in eighth grade and planned to break up after graduating from Horizon High School in Scottsdale, Arizona. Tommy had been drafted in the second round by the San Francisco Giants in 2009. Ali was headed off to college.

That breakup never happened. They got married last July during the All-Star break.

“I’ve definitely admired her will to want to do what she’s done since she was 18 years old,” Tommy Joseph said. “It’s what she’s always wanted to do. I wasn’t ever going to stand in her way.”

Ali Joseph, 25, has known she wanted to pursue a military path since high school. Her uncle, Frank Gavin, was a helicopter pilot in the Army and she was originally recruited by the Air Force Academy to play soccer. She visited the campus in Colorado Springs the summer before junior year. Ali ultimately received an Air Force ROTC scholarship to Baylor University, where she earned a bachelor of science in nursing.

The scholarship required Ali to serve four years of active duty after graduating.

As a labor and delivery nurse, Ali works seven 12-hour shifts in two weeks and, as an activity military member, is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If a floor gets too busy or if a patient worsens and requires additional help, a nurse gets called in. 

On shift days, Ali wakes up at 4 a.m. and arrives at Eglin Air Force Base Hospital around 5:15 a.m. The unpredictability of the work means sometimes getting home at 7:30 p.m. or later.

Her patients are service members and wives or daughters of service members. Ali assists when women go into labor, checking vitals and monitoring progression, helping throughout the birthing process. On shift days when no babies are delivered, she takes care of mothers and their babies, working with the new mothers on newborn education, teaching breast feeding, caesarean section post-op care and other postpartum care.

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On top of her duties as a nurse, Ali, who went through boot camp at the beginning of her service, also has monthly military obligations.

“First you’re an officer, then you’re a nurse,” Ali said. “Our military stuff takes precedence – not patient-care wise – but we’re always on call as a officer. You don’t get time off.”

Although she hasn’t been deployed, she must remain up to date on military training. That includes shooting and being qualified with firearms, computer and safety training, and Air Force Base exercises.

“I’m so proud of her and everything she’s been able to accomplish,” Tommy said. “Any time I’ve had the opportunity to be around her peers or any families she’s had the opportunity to help, everybody always highly of her and her knowledge and how she prepares and helps others. That’s just who she is as a person.”

Ali and Tommy Joseph’s careers create a unique dynamic. Professional baseball can be tough on personal relationships, with the travel schedule, long season and the constant unknowns of what city or level a player could be at on any given day.

Because she works long hours during the day and has to be up early, Ali is often in bed before Phillies games end. Waking up to missed calls or text messages from Tommy is normal. Even when Tommy is home in the offseason, Ali maintains her typical schedule.

“I feel like our relationship is based off of FaceTime and phone calls,” Ali said, laughing. “We’re obviously not joint military, but it in a way is very much like the military has control over my life and baseball has control over his life and we’ve been able to be supportive of each other’s dreams and made it work.”

Added Tommy: “You have to find ways to work around it. I think it’s something we’ve done a really good job of doing that, realizing we’re important in each other’s lives as well as our careers.”

When Tommy earned his first call-up to the majors last May, Ali was stationed in Mississippi. She was nearing the end of what had been a three-month assignment when Tommy called with the good news.

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Ali was unable to take leave to make it to Citizens Bank Park for Tommy’s MLB debut. So instead, Ali went back and forth between helping a mom through labor and trying to watch his big-league debut on a computer.

However, her assignment ended in time to be there for his next game three days later. Ali saw Tommy collect his first big-league hit and then his first career home run the following day. Tommy understood her job came first, regardless of what time of the season he might’ve been called up.

“For him to be able to have his dream come true and to be a small part of the support system that got him there, was really an incredible thing for me,” Ali said. “He never ever took me away from my dreams either, and I just think that’s a really great part of our relationship, that we’ve both been able to pursue the things that were important to us and support each other along the way but also have our own identity.”

The craziness of the Josephs’ demanding careers is coming to an end, though.

Ali has known for the last year that she would not re-enlist at the end of her four years of service. She received orders last May to go to Japan a week before Tommy was called up, but felt it would be too far from him to accept. When her active duty service ends June 29, Ali, who will be promoted to captain on June 17, will transition to civilian life. 

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Currently in the application process with an eye on the University of Cincinnati’s online program, she plans to study to become a nurse practitioner. Online classes will allow Ali the freedom to move up to Philadelphia for the remainder of the season and travel with Tommy. Last season, Ali made it to Philadelphia only twice and went on just one road trip.

Tommy is looking forward to Ali getting to know his teammates and their families, and vice versa. Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp is one of Tommy’s closest friends on the team and one of the few who has been around Ali.

Rupp and Tommy often spend their downtime together on road trips, though that will likely change when Ali joins Tommy at the end of June. When it was pointed out to Rupp that he’d be losing his road buddy, he quipped, “She’ll be the third wheel, not me.”

“We always call her lieutenant when we see her,” Rupp said. “It’s cool because it’s not something you see that often in our profession. They do it right, as hard as it might be to not see each other very often. The commitment they make to one another is neat.”

These upcoming months will represent the most time the couple has spent together since high school. Ali was able to help Tommy move into his Philadelphia apartment at the start of the season, joking that she wanted to make sure it didn’t look like a bachelor pad.  

“It’s definitely going to be a learning period for us,” Tommy said. “An exciting one and a good one, too, because we get to see each other and find out what that’s like. We’re looking forward to it.”

The Josephs are keeping their offseason home in Destin, amid the close-knit military community where they’ve built a foundation and friendships.

“I think the military will always be a part of who we are as people and what is important to us,” Ali said. “As it’s started to wind down, all of these emotions come up because I can’t believe these four years have gone so quickly. The sense of community within the military has been more than I expected.”

Contact Meghan Montemurro at [email protected]com. Follow her on Twitter at @M_Montemurro.