VCI hosts Military Spouse Appreciation Day

·2 min read

May 12—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — Retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Merle Duane Hart knows what it is like to be a member of the military deployed to a combat zone and also a self-described "Mr. Mom," taking care of a family while a spouse fulfills service obligations away from home.

Hart spent four decades in the military, traveling to more than 100 countries, while his wife, Julieann Hart, took care of the household. He retired and the family moved to Windber. But, over the last few years, his wife, a lieutenant colonel, has been stationed in Washington, D.C., only able to make trips home every other weekend or so.

The general spoke about his experiences on Friday during Veteran Community Initiatives' 14th Annual Military Spouse Appreciation Day ceremony at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial in downtown Johnstown.

"I was always the one that was gone," Hart said. "I retired, and she's back on active force for the last three and a half years. So she's been in D.C. Our two youngest kids were still at home. I've got to experience the other side of the stick."

He talked about how a military life often requires personnel to miss important events.

"That's the sacrifice of service," Hart said. "It is what it is. You can't get it back. You can't do everything. Time, indeed, stands still for no one."

Amanda Ammerman shared her story of sacrifice, too, during the event.

She spent almost 15 years as a military spouse, living with her husband, Andy Ammerman, during his deployments to Alaska, Japan, North Dakota and New Jersey.

Although he is now out of the Air Force, Amanda Ammerman still works to make spouses aware of the assistance available to them, such as support groups.

"Those people are there for a reason," Ammerman said. "They're there to help you. That's where my heart is, as a spouse now, since we're out in the community as civilians. It's really to advocate for those still in or even transitioning out. It's to set them up for success."