When visiting a close friend his family at West Point, Ryan Aument visited was taken by the atmosphere. “The uniqueness of going to a military school… I became interested in becoming a military officer.” He ultimately set his sights on The Citadel, becoming the first in his family of his generation to go to college. His father, who held jobs as a dairy farmer and trucker, didn’t have military experience, but both he and Aument’s mother emphasized the value of education.
“My mom would talk about the heart of the American dream. She would say, ‘I want you to have more doors and opportunities opened for you.’ She had a love of history, and we took family day trips to historical sites like Valley Forge, Gettysburg and Washington, D.C.” He smiles as he remembers one of his mother’s most important activities. “She kept a scrapbook for me of newspaper clippings of major news events the times when I was a child. I have those scrapbooks – we did it together. My mom, who did not go to college, who grew up on a farm, had a bigger sense of the world and global events than other people… that is important.”
A self-proclaimed child of the 80s, Aument grew up admiring public figures such as Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp and George H.W. Bush. In high school, he began actively volunteering on campaigns as a member of the Lancaster County Republican committee. Later, during his time serving on active Army duty, partially in Iraq, he wasn’t able to stay as involved with politics, but he paid attention. When he returned home, he went through a period he feels is common to many veterans, asking himself: “Now what?”
Wanting to find something as rewarding and fulfilling as active duty, and feeling fortunate that he was able to come home, he decided he had an obligation to serve. He focused on public service, working to elect George W. Bush for a second term. It wasn’t until the infamous pay raise of 2005 in Harrisburg that he took a serious look at personally running for the House in 2006. “I was offended and outraged at the July 2005 pay raise, especially at those who identified themselves as strong fiscal conservatives… until they benefited,” he says.
Ultimately, he didn’t run in 2006, opting instead to help his friend, Bryan Cutler, now the House majority whip, win. Aument was Cutler’s campaign manager, and assumed that by helping Cutler, he was effectively passing up his own opportunity to join the legislature. However, four years later, Aument and his family had moved to a different district, and when a House seat came up, he decided it was time for a run.
Having been a campaign manager, he is honest when discussing his own campaign. Laughing, he admits, “I was probably a difficult candidate. It gave me a great appreciate for my campaign team.” He won the seat, served two terms, and went on to be elected to the Senate in 2014. Aument is passionate about building opportunities for society, such as promoting strong families, strong communities, a quality education system and free enterprise.
Yet Aument is adamant that without his wife’s support, he wouldn’t be able to serve. “You have to be in it together,” he avers. “This was not my wife’s dream. But we feel we’ve been given this privilege. We’ve been called at this point in life to provide a public service as a family, so we sacrifice as a family.”