By Valerie Franchi, Contributing Writer
Region – “As a veteran, I feel that it’s my duty to help the community reach out to our returning service members and let them know that we appreciate their sacrifice,” said Adam Costello, the newly appointed director of veterans’ services at the Central Massachusetts Veterans Service District (CMVD). “One of the worst feelings is getting home from a deployment and catching a cab to an empty apartment.”
Costello is speaking from personal experience. He joined the Army in September 2005, and was the senior medic for B Company, 1-27 Infantry “Wolfhounds,” part of the 25th Infantry Division out of Oahu, Hawaii. He was deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom (2007-2009) and Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn (2010-2011), conducting operations in and around the Tikrit area. He received an honorable discharge in August 2012 and returned home to Northborough.
To help other veterans returning home, Costello has launched the Welcome Home Program, in which local community organizations and schools create cards to give to the troops when they return home from foreign and domestic assignments.
“It’s an easy way for the community to get involved with the veterans,” Costello said. “I started this program because local youth leaders were asking me for some way that they could help, and then it just clicked.”
So far he has received cards from Armstrong Elementary School in Westborough and Girl Scout Troop 30156 in Northborough. In addition, the Fannie E. Proctor Elementary School and St. Bernadette School, both in Northborough, have committed to provide cards to the program.
The first batch, Costello said, will be sent to members of the unit of Army Specialist Brian K. Arsenault, the Northborough resident who was killed in action in Afghanistan.
Costello noted that his first priority for the program is to serve local residents.
“There’s nothing better than getting something from your community when you’re far away,” he said. “It really helps you feel remembered.”
He added that he received packages from different places when he was deployed.
“Then one came from Northborough,” he said. “It was the best thing because it came from home. I want to bring that feeling to other returning vets.”
Costello is asking the community for help. Most importantly, he needs to identify local returning soldiers, so cards can be sent to them as a priority. He is also seeking community groups and schools to create the cards.
While the Welcome Home Program is specifically for soldiers returning home, Costello is brainstorming other new programs, such as aiding families of deployed soldiers and reservists.
Costello asked community members who know of a local deployed veteran or would like to participate in the program, to email him at [email protected] and write “Welcome Home Card” in the subject line.
For more information, visit centralmassvets.org.