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A Surprise Gift for a Soldier's Family | News

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A Surprise Gift for a Soldier's Family
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It's the story of the beautiful harmony between a husband and wife who have handled adversity with the utmost grace -- and the people so inspired by it that they helped bring this family a wonderful surprise.

Dana Thompson will be the first to tell you: it's never been easy keeping up with four kids while her husband serves in the army.

"My grandfather was in World War II," said Captain Don Thompson. "Actually, both grandfathers were. My dad was an Air Force captain."

Don felt the same calling and enlisted just in time to be sent to Iraq in 2004; he so appreciated the experience that he decided to go into a military career. He served another tour last year, this time in Afghanistan, and now works in Macon; he commutes two hours each way from Cumming every day.

And it's obvious why.

"When he comes home, it's just, 'Aaaah!'" says Dana Thompson. "Utter excitement ..."

It's hard for Don to be away, as well as for Dana to handle the home -- or, at least, it should be. But the couple has stuck to the belief that the bonds of family beat the strains of distance every time.

"If I'm not in the field or completely indisposed and can't talk, I call her every night," Don says. "It doesn't matter where I am; I'll find a way."

It's why they made a tape of Don reading bedtime stories, so his kids could still hear his voice when he was overseas. And it's why, a few months back, Dana wrote an essay whose voice would carry far wider than she ever expected.

It was an essay for a contest run by "Operation Homefront", a non-profit out of Marietta that supports veterans and their families. They been had approached by NADRA, the North American Deck and Railing Association, for a new campaign called "Deck for a Soldier".

In Georgia, they all read Dana's essay and found their soldier.

So for a week-and-a-half, they got to work, building a front porch and a two-level deck, with 32 local companies volunteering to help.

The deck is a tremendous gift -- one the Thompsons never expected. But they say they take the gift in the same way they take the struggle: as a chance for support and love, and to make themselves a stronger family.

"He doesn't ever want me to not feel appreciated, and he lets me know that," says Dana. "And in turn, I give back to him.

"It's a complete give-and-give relationship ... and it's fabulous."

Click here for more on Operation Homefront. And click here for more on NADRA's Deck for a Soldier program.

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