There are an endless number of ways to decorate the exterior of your home. Maybe you like a bed of flowers beneath a bedroom window or you prefer out-of-season Christmas lights along the gutters. Grass, no grass, cobble walkways—they all make a home beautiful in their own ways. But there’s one popular decorative trend that does a lot more than make your front yard stand out.

People all across America have been illuminating their porches with light bulbs—specifically, green ones. And while the decorative choice may look like a trend left over from past St. Patrick’s Day, the true purpose is much more significant—and it sends a vital message to anyone who sees it.

In November of 2015, Matthew Shuldham of Staten Island, New York, ventured to his local Home Depot looking for something that would catch his neighbors’ attention: a light bulb. More specifically, he wanted a green light bulb.

Matthew Shuldham / Facebook; Evelin / Flickr

It should have been a simple process, but the hardware store didn’t have a single green bulb in stock. In fact, nearly every Home Depot in the area had sold out of green light bulbs completely. But why?

SI Live

A cashier at one of the stores said, “Several persons mentioned Veterans Day when they bought them.” Indeed, it seemed there was some sort of green-light trend spreading across the country. But what could it be?

U.S Air Force

Matthew was actually trying to participate in a country-sweeping event known as Greenlight A Vet. A campaign sponsored by Walmart, it was meant “to establish visible national support for our veterans by changing one [porch] light to green.”

Since his father was an American Marine in the 1970s and ’80s, Matthew felt that changing a single porch light bulb to green was the perfect way to honor his father for the upcoming Veteran’s Day. But why green?

Department of Defense

“Green is the color of hope, renewal and well-being” the Greenlight A Vet website stated. “‘Greenlight’ is also a term commonly used to activate forward movement.” Makes sense, but there was more…

The explanation continued: “The simple gesture of changing one light to green creates a beacon of support and appreciation, and a visible symbol of our commitment to ‘greenlight’ veterans forward as valued members of our communities.”

Alabama Today

Matthew wasn’t alone in wanting to participate in this admirable mission. The GreenLight campaign tracked online “acts of support,” and as of April 2018, the total exceeded nine million—that’s a lot of green lights!

Greenlight a Vet

One of those green lights belonged to veteran Wilmer Warren of Greenville, North Carolina. He didn’t just buy bulbs for himself, either; he bought some for his neighbors, too, hoping to bring them into the campaign.

WNCT-TV 9 On Your Side / YouTube

“I think they’ll pick up on it,” Wilmer said of his neighbors, “and realize that there needs to be a participation.” But with green lights popping up all over the country, that begs an important question: how do the actual troops feel about all of this?

WNCTV-9 On Your Side / YouTube

After all, in America, there are already more than a few dozen ways to honor the troops: cities regularly host parades, restaurants often offer discounted meals, and charities in every state raise funds to help service members everywhere. Is a green light bulb really going to make an impact?

Scott M. Ash / U.S. Air Force

North Carolina’s WNCT News sought to answer that question when they visited the home of Shaun Dezern, a wounded warrior, active duty sailor, husband, and father. He had a lot to say about the green bulbs…

WNCTV-9 On Your Side / YouTube

“With what’s going on in the world today, we’re going to be asked to [go to war] for a long time, and we need more than just a thank you,” Shaun said. “We don’t get to leave behind what we saw, what we did.”

WNCTV-9 On Your Side / YouTube

The veteran elaborated on his three tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan: “I was shot once in the knee, through and through,” he said. “And once in the shoulder, through and through.” And that wasn’t even the worst part of his time overseas…

WNCTV-9 On Your Side / YouTube

“A good buddy who was sitting right next to me was killed,” Shaun said. “I came home. It’s been a long journey home.” Since his return, Shaun has spent hours in the hospital undergoing intensive surgeries.

WNCTV-9 On Your Side / YouTube

And those green lights? Seeing a green light out when you’re driving, whether it’s in an office building or a neighborhood—it’s support,” he said. “I see the green light, and I see ‘fight for me.’ I mean, that’s our promise, right?”

WNCTV-9 On Your Side / YouTube

For Shaun, seeing a green light meant someone out there was fighting for him the way he fought for the country. Even his wife Stephanie appreciated the bulbs. “It’s so nice to see him light up every time he sees a light.”

WNCTV-9 On Your Side / YouTube

The trauma of war—something veterans like Shaun, Wilmer, and Matthew’s father faced—affects every soldier in their own way. Some return home with physical injuries while others suffer from PTSD, which is why this effort is so vital.

Master Sgt. Jonathan Dyer / U.S. Air Force

That’s why it was so important that the Greenlight A Vet campaign to let regular citizens support returning soldiers. For just a few dollars, homeowners could let passing veterans know someone appreciates their work. How cool is that?

andrewdecker539 / Instagram

When you check out the video below, you’ll see all of WNCT News’s talk with Shaun Dezern and get a little more information on the campaign. So what do you think? Will you be adding any green lights to your porch?

Don’t forget to change one of your light bulbs outside your home and honor our veterans! It’s amazing that Walmart sponsored this initiative to help people show their support.

Share this wonderful Greenlight A Vet campaign with your friends below!