"The army here is involved in so many programs that literally benefit thousands of people in Boyle, Casey, Garrard, Lincoln and Mercer counties," he said. "With the continued outstanding guidance of our advisory board, which is full of ideas and energy, and the wonderful support from local businesses and organizations and the (Heart of Kentucky) United Way, Sarah and I want to do everything we can to continue these programs."
Lt. Nelson cited just a few of the army's programs as examples of the "community-army partnership" that has been created over the years, and they include the organization's biggest endeavor - the Christmas program.
"We want to make sure this year's Angel Tree and Red Kettle and the Christmas food programs continue to grow," the lieutenant said.
Capt. Nelson said work on the Christmas program already has begun.
"We're already ordering toys and reviewing our kettle sites," she said. "For the army, it really is Christmas in July."
The Nelsons also plan to continue army involvement in the Hope Clinic, a joint project of the army, the United Way and Ephraim McDowell Health. Under the project, medicines and medical care are provided to medically underserved area residents.
"We also want to bolster our growing programs for youth, including our after-school program and our Club 3:16, which is a character-building program for young people similar to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts," said Lt. Nelson.
Lt. Nelson, 28, and Capt. Nelson, 32, traveled slightly different journeys before their paths intersected a few years ago.
Lt. Nelson grew up in Rockford, Ill., in a family that belonged to a Salvation Army church.
"We were soldiers, or members," he said. "My parents weren't officers."
Meeting in Illinois
After graduating from Western Illinois University with a bachelor's degree in communications, the lieutenant returned to Rockford where he landed a public relations job with the local army.
Along the way, he met and started dating Capt. Nelson.
A native of St. Louis, Capt. Nelson was from a family filled with Salvation Army officers.
"I'm a fourth generation army officer," she said.
But Capt. Nelson said she decided to delay her training to become an officer until she was sure that's what God wanted her to do.
"I did some soul-searching, and I even attended other churches," she said. "But after a period of time, it was clear that the Lord wanted me to be a Salvation Army officer."
She graduated from the Salvation Army's officer training school in Atlanta in 2004 and was commissioned a captain.
"Despite my family history of officers, I never thought the army would accept me, a single mom, for officer training," she said, adding she had a daughter, Hannah, from a previous marriage. "But the Lord blessed me and approved of what I was doing."
She was assigned to the army's St. Petersburg, Fla., unit. Joining her there was Lt. Nelson.
"When Sarah was assigned to St. Petersburg, I essentially followed her there," he said. "While Sarah was serving in her officer position, I worked in development for the unit."
After the two were married in 2006, the Nelsons went to Atlanta where he entered the army's officer training school and his wife joined the school's staff. He graduated in June of this year and was commissioned as a lieutenant.
"When Sarah graduated in 2004, every graduate was commissioned with the rank of captain, but the army since has switched back to commissioning graduates as lieutenants," Lt. Nelson said. "Of course, she outranks me in every aspect of our lives, so why not in our work life."
The Nelsons live in a house in Danville provided by the army, and that's where they are raising Hannah, now 8, and their son, Nolan, 51/2 months.
The couple, who both love to run, plan to join Danville's large jogging community. They also like to hike and travel and look forward to trying out the area's and state's many hiking trails and also visiting its numerous historic sites.
"Dan and I enjoy our time together away from work, running and hiking and traveling, and, of course, being with our children, but we are at our best when we are working together in our ministry," Capt. Nelson said. "The ministry is our passion."