The Decorated Family Program Honors Local Veterans In a Special Way
The decorations we put up for the holidays are temporary—but that doesn't mean they're unimportant. Arranging some flowers in a vase, hanging a seasonal flag, or putting up a Christmas tree are all ways to make a home warm, welcoming, and happy. This can be particularly meaningful for anyone who's been away from home for a while, and who would benefit from some extra care and cheer.
Just ask Lucas and Amy Oppelt. This married couple, both veterans, made it through a terribly challenging time together, thanks in part to the warmth and happiness that holiday decorations bring.
On May 26, 2012, Amy received a call from the Army informing her that Lucas had stepped on an IED during active duty. Over the next three years, the family virtually lived in the hospital with Lucas. The former combat line medic lost his right leg and suffered nerve damage in his left, leaving him grateful to be alive but limited physically and by experiences with PTSD.
When Lucas could finally go home from the hospital, the whole family was thrilled to get to spend Christmas together at their house. Amy knew that when it came to hanging lights and other decorations, they would have to do things a little differently—so she reached out to the Decorated Family Program.
Started in 2003 at a Christmas Decor franchise, the the Decorated Family Program helps military families add holiday spirit to their homes with all types of decorations. At Lucas and Amy's, Christmas Decor workers hung more than 1,000 lights and set up inflatable characters in the front yard, and it was all a surprise to the Oppelts' kids!
"My daughter just stood in amazement for 3 or 4 minutes and didn't say anything, just sat there and looked at the lights," Lucas says. That feeling, and seeing families united in holiday spirit, is truly priceless.
This video was produced by Lucia Nazzaro and shot/edited by Jackie Turner.
People can nominate deserving military families in their community by filling out the nomination form, available on Facebook.
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