Exterior Entryways

What Does a Green Porch Light Mean?

Learn the reason your neighbors have illuminated a green porch light this month—and no, it doesn’t have anything to do with Christmas.
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Fairbanks North Star Borough in Alaska, shining green exterior lights for Operation Green Light a Veteran.

Photo: National Association of Counties

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Q: My neighbors’ front porch light is green, rather than white or yellow. I know that a blue porch light signifies support for the police (and autism awareness), but I have no idea what a green outdoor light means. Can you shed some light on this situation?

A: In November each year, you may notice some of your neighbors’ porch lights turning green. While it’s easy to assume that they’re getting a head start on their Christmas decorating, a green porch light actually has a significance that has nothing to do with the holiday season. Americans use green porch lights to show support for U.S. military veterans. The idea began as part of an initiative called the Greenlight a Vet project. According to the campaign, “The simple action of changing one light to green is intended to spark a national conversation regarding the recognition of veterans, and ‘greenlight’ them forward as valued members of our communities.”

How did the green light tradition start?

Bridge in Mohave County, Arizona, illuminated in green for Operation Green Light a Vet.
Photo: National Association of Counties

In 2013, Walmart’s Veterans Welcome Home Commitment initiative, which provides jobs to any honorably discharged U.S. veteran, created an ad campaign asking people to turn on a green porch light as a way to recognize and show appreciation for veterans in their community. They encouraged people to share their support on social media by taking a photo of their green light and sharing it with the hashtag #GreenlightAVet. (A Bob Vila editor has reached out to Walmart for comment; Walmart will not confirm whether the initiative is ongoing.)

The Mill at Pratville illuminated in green lights in support of U.S. veterans.
Photo: Amber Sanders and Ashley Stoddart, Envolve LLC

The Greenlight a Vet initiative is not the only one to shine a light, so to speak, on our country’s veterans: In 2022, The National Association of Counties (NACo) in affiliation with the National Association of County Veterans Services Officers (NACVSO), launched Operation Green Light for Veterans (#OperationGreenLight). In the program’s debut year, over 300 counties participated nationwide, including Fairbanks, Alaska’s North Star Borough (top photo) and Mohave County, Arizona (bridge, above). Nicole Weissman, NACo’s director of strategic communications, expects the number of participating counties this year to be “significantly larger” than it was last year.

“We must support our veterans and their families—not only during Operation Green Light but all year round,” says NACo President Jo McGuire. “Counties are advocating for legislation to secure appropriate resources at the local level to help veterans access their federal benefits, ease their transition into civilian life, and support their long-term health and well-being.”

What does a green porch light mean?
Photo: homedepot.com

The association explains, “By shining a green light, county governments and our residents will let veterans know that they are seen, appreciated, and supported.” NACo’s initiative encourages all U.S. counties and parishes to show support for military veterans by illuminating courthouses, offices, and other municipal buildings in green from November 6–12, the week of Veterans Day.  

In September 2023, the House of Representatives introduced House Resolution 750, a bipartisan bill recognizing Operation Green Light for Veterans for “supporting veterans and…help[ing] veterans transition to civilian life.”

Why green lights on houses, rather than another color?

Now that you understand the origin of these veterans initiatives, you may still be wondering why the color green, and not another hue, was chosen. Green is a color that is often associated with the military because of the green uniforms traditionally worn by troops, but there’s a more symbolic meaning as well. According to the Greenlight a Vet campaign, “Green is the color of hope, renewal and well-being.” They add that “‘Greenlight’ is also a term commonly used to activate forward movement.”

RELATED: Should You Leave Your Porch Light on at Night?

When should you shine a green porch light on your home? 

what does a green porch light mean
Photo: Walmart.com

While Veterans Day on November 11 is the most symbolic time of year to show support for America’s troops, why not follow Operation Green Light for Veterans’ lead and shine the light for the whole week of Veterans Day—or even keep your green light up year-round to show your ongoing appreciation for our military?

In Prattville, Alabama, community advocate Julie Cooley, who is also a military spouse and mother, went a little further. She encouraged “neighbors, municipalities and businesses to show their love and support of our veterans this week. Some choose to put signage on their marquis, some offer discounts, some turn their lights green! What’s important is that our military veterans and their families feel a great big hug from their Prattville community.”

“One of NACo’s goals for Operation Green Light is to equip counties to participate in a way that’s meaningful to veterans in their community, so we’re always looking for ways to do that,” says Weissman. In some counties, she says, this outreach includes “distributing green light bulbs or otherwise encouraging residents to participate” in Operation Green Light for Veterans.  If you’d like to show your support for veterans this week, pick up a green light bulb at your local hardware store—or at one of the following retailers.

Where to Buy Green Light Bulbs

Prices provided here are accurate as of November 1, 2023.

Show us your green porch lights! Please tag #bobvilahome on Instagram.