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Jeanne Ferrere, who served as a nurse in the United States Army and reached the rank of First Lieutenant, poses for a photograph wth her meritorious service medal in her home on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017, in Soddy-Daisy, Tenn. Ferrere served the 24th Infantry Divsion out of Fort Stewart, Ga.

For Jeanne Ferrere, her time at Fort Stewart, Ga., wasn't easy. She was balancing life as a mother, wife and U.S. Army nurse for the 24th Infantry Division, and her husband was deployed overseas.

"It was difficult," she said. "You know, what were the odds that everybody's husband was going to come back? That was always on your mind."

Her husband, Army Capt. Daniel Ferrere, of Grove City, Pa., was deployed to both Iraq and Kuwait for Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Many other couples were in the same situation, with both of them being in the military and only one being deployed.

Bio:

Name: Jeanne Ferrere

Age: 51

Home: Soddy-Daisy, Tenn.

Military branch and rank: U.S. Army, first lieutenant

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Jeanne Ferrere's meritorious service medal is seen on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017, in Soddy-Daisy, Tenn. Ferrere served the 24th Infantry Divsion out of Fort Stewart, Ga.

With her husband being deployed several times, the couple was apart for their first two wedding anniversaries and their son's first two birthdays.

The Pittsburgh, Pa., native relied on her friends for help and encouragement while her husband was away.

"That's the community of the Army," she said. "People have to help each other."

Though the hospital in which she worked did not see many patients with serious injuries — soldiers injured in Iraq would go to a hospital in Germany before coming back to the States — Ferrere said she saw her role as more than just a nurse.

"The corpsmen mostly were in their early 20s, and some were much younger," she said. "So, a lot of people needed a lot of guidance."

She said she hoped the young people she encountered advanced their careers, whether it was staying in the Army or going to college with their GI Bill.

Ferrere said the Army gave her invaluable experience in her career field that helped mold her professionally. That was how she joined the Army, through a nursing scholarship at the University of Pittsburgh.

"It certainly was a good start for me," she said. " it's a good way to get a career started or to earn money to go to college."

It was at the university that Ferrere met her husband, too.

"It was one of those, 'If it didn't happen right this moment, we never would have met,'" she said.

She said he was on his way to physical training one morning at around 6 a.m., and she was on her way to her nursing clinical.

"We just happened to cross paths, and he asked me to go to the military ball, and so I said yes, because at 6 o'clock in the morning, I don't know what I'm doing yet!" she said, laughing.

The two had only met in passing previously.

She said he psyched himself up to ask her to the ball that morning.

"He said if I wasn't at PT that morning, he wasn't going to ask me — and I wasn't going to be — but we just happened to cross paths at that time," she said.

By the time she resigned her commission, she had reached the rank of first lieutenant and received a Meritorious Service Medal for her performance as a professional clinical staff nurse.

Now, Ferrere, 51, and her husband live in Soddy-Daisy, and have been married for 28 years and have two children. She's retired from nursing and volunteers as a teacher for religious education and reading at local schools and sometimes at the library, too.

Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at rhughes@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.

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