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NEWS | Dec. 19, 2019

Dec’ the Deployment

By Airman 1st Class Marcus M. Bullock 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The holidays are a time for celebration and togetherness. However, they can quickly turn into a tough time for military families, especially if military members are deployed and have to spend time away from their families.

Through the Dec’ the Deployment initiative, volunteers go to the houses of deployed families and help them decorate for the holiday season.

Katelyn Tinsley, founder and lead designer for Dec’ the Deployment, developed this initiative from her own experiences of being away from her deployed military spouse during the holiday season.

“When my husband deployed, I didn’t put up a Christmas tree because I didn’t have the energy, I had a one year old and was pregnant with my second child,” said Tinsley. “If that’s what I was going through, then there are other families going through the same thing and that’s where Dec’ The Deployment came from.”

In the instance of Brooke Epp, military spouse and Air Force veteran, this became especially helpful after she injured her back and was no longer able to decorate her house without help from the volunteers.

“We would not have been able to get the decorations down if we didn’t have help this year,” said Epp. “They are putting the decorations together and making it look beautiful and I know my kids are going to be happy because we wouldn’t have a tree or be putting up lights without the volunteers.”

Not only do the volunteers help these families decorate, but they can help to mitigate feelings of loneliness from being away from military family members.

“You can feel isolated and alone a lot of the time,” said Tinsley. “Dec’ the Deployment is a huge community building initiative to galvanize support for families who need it the most and help bring families together.”

This initiative not only uses the families’ ornaments when decorating, but they also create decorations that they bring and use at the homes.

According to Tinsley, many decorations they bring families are actually created specifically for Dec’ the Deployment decorating. Many of the items brought are repurposed and turned into ornaments that families can cherish for holiday seasons to come.

Dec’ the Deployment tries to bring to a bigger sense of family when deployments may temporarily separate a loved one from their family during the holiday season.

“Some people are away from their family with their kids in a new place and just need some holiday cheer,” said Epp. “Just having these people here wearing their Christmas sweaters and smiling, who are willing to help, brings a lot of joy to our family.”

During the holiday season, military members separated from their families can rest a little easier knowing that Dec’ the Deployment and its volunteers are helping their family get through the season with some holiday cheer.