Florida Power Company, Veterans Give Injured Marine Vet a Christmas Miracle

by Jennifer Shea

It’s the Season of Giving, and so one Florida power company found a way to give back to a Marine veteran who has given so much for his country.

The utility, Florida Power & Light, collaborated with the Brevard Veterans Council to make one Brevard County veteran’s Christmas extra special this year. FPL selected Josh Frey and his family for a holiday decoration bonanza, Florida Today reports.

Together with some of Frey’s fellow veterans, FPL volunteers decked out the Freys’ house with thousands of LED lights, solar candy canes and an inflatable Santa in camo fatigues with a “God Bless America” sign. They also brought over gifts for Frey, his wife Sarah Starr and their two daughters, Lily and Emma.

“All right, all right, all right,” Frey began, addressing the 20-plus volunteers who sprang the multicolored lights show on him Tuesday. “I don’t even know what’s going on, but thank you… You’re gonna catch a Marine crying. It’s a little overwhelming.”

Florida Marine Paid a Price for His Service in Iraq

The decorative spree came just in time for Dec. 12. That’s Frey’s ‘Alive Day,’ the anniversary of when he beat the odds and lived despite serious injuries. It was 2004, and Frey was nearing the end of his first seven-month deployment. In a firefight in Fallujah, he was basically “blown up,” Starr told Florida Today. His right shoulder was badly damaged.

Twenty-three surgeries later, doctors saved his right arm, but Frey can barely use it now. He also returned with a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for his trouble. And of course, there’s the survivor’s guilt to boot.

Now medically retired from the Marine Corps, Frey is still a fighter. He’s working to prevent veteran suicides, trying to see to it that “the ones who do come home don’t die on this side.” And he’s an advocate of medical marijuana, so veterans don’t become addicted to pills.

“He feels like the best thing that he can do to honor his brothers who didn’t come home was to live for them,” Starr said of her husband, who struggles with memories of his lost colleagues around the holidays. “So I think this is a nice time to kind of bring some joy back into a not-so-easy time.”

FPL, Veterans Council Worked Together on Surprise Decoration

Brevard Veterans Council chair Donn Weaver told Florida Today that FPL came to him back in August and asked him to suggest a veteran whose house they could decorate. Weaver said they’re thrilled FPL chose them to work with, and when choosing a veteran, the council looked for Purple Heart recipients with families, “because young kids delight in Christmas stuff.”

For its part, FPL said the company was just doing its part to celebrate the holidays right.

“One of the ways we do this is by thanking local heroes in our communities who’ve made sacrifices to keep our nation and community safe,” FPL spokesman Bart Gaetjens told Florida Today. “Working with Brevard Veterans Memorial Center… we are thrilled to give back to this deserving hero and his family.”

On Tuesday, Frey stood outside his illuminated home, his wife and daughters at his side. The tears brushed aside quickly, his grin grew as he spoke about the bonds of family and community that have nourished his spirit.

“We can’t do it without each other. Together we’re a complete team, and that goes from the military to the civilians to the family,” he said. “God bless America.”