|The Decorate A Vet house on Wayne Drive in the Broyhill Crest neighborhood in Annandale.|
These are the homes of military families or veterans that have been decorated and fixed up for the holidays by a team of volunteers led by Jeff Jones, the owner of Classic Stonescaping.
|A huge team of volunteers worked on the homes.|
They also decorated American Legion Post 130 in Falls Church because that’s where Jones went in 2010 when he first got the idea for Decorate A Vet and asked the legionnaires for suggestions on veterans who would need some help during the holidays. The post now serves as the group’s clubhouse where the volunteers meet to get their marching orders for the day.
|A contingent of firefighters helped decorate the homes and fix up the yards.|
This year the houses were in pretty good shape, he says. They did some yard work and put in a new front walkway on one of the Annandale houses. The goal is to complete each house in an hour and 10 minutes.
|Lots of kids volunteered, too.|
Another veteran helped this year is a former lieutenant colonel in the Air Force who will be spending his first Christmas alone in his house on Garner Street in Springfield since his wife passed away in March. He served in Egypt and Korea, as well as at the Pentagon and Defense Intelligence Agency where he supported the National Security Council and the Office of the Vice President.
The Decorate A Vet house on Wayne Drive in Annandale is occupied by a man who served in the Marine Corps for 45 years, beginning in the Korean War, was in charge of maintaining fighter planes at Andrews Air Force Base, and retired as a CW5, the highest chief warrant officer rank in the corps.
There’s a World War II vet living in the Decorate A Vet house in Vienna, and the other homes decorated this month are occupied by the families of people on active duty overseas who want to remain anonymous.
Jones started Decorate A Vet during his work with Classic Stonescaping when he noticed some peoples’ yards needed fixing up and learned some of the homeowners were veterans.
“That was the inspiration for me growing up,” Jones says. “When you hear the stories when you’re young you think it was just all fun. When you grow up and learn what really went on, holy crap.”
Jones has a core group of about 40 to 50 volunteers who’ve worked on the houses every year. Members of the youth group at Annandale United Methodist Church have helped out for the past three years. Other volunteers are recruited though social media.
About 40 percent of the volunteers are youths, Jones says. “We want them to get involved, to know what it’s like to do something for others, not just for themselves.”