Charlestown Volunteers and Veterans Welcome Troops Home

CATONSVILLE, MD (April 29, 2014) -- After experiencing an emotional Welcome Home event with her family, Suzanne Levitt decided to recruit her neighbors from Charlestown retirement community to greet U.S. troops returning from overseas. In just a few weeks, Levitt recruited volunteers from Charlestown to be part of Operation Welcome Home, a group of volunteers from local churches and community groups, organizes the nonpartisan events. A dozen Charlestown residents each month greet U.S. troops each month at the International Arrivals area at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. Charlestown provides free transportation to and from the airport, and the Dining Services department makes prepackaged snack bags for the volunteers to give to troops. "I wanted to invite people from Charlestown because we were so impressed by the experience of seeing the soldiers coming home and because so many people here are veterans," Levitt said. "People in our generation can certainly identify with the troops." As the troops enter the airport's International Arrivals area, they are greeted with cheers, waves, smiles, and signs from the Charlestown. residents.  "You can see the emotion in the troops' eyes and the appreciation on their faces," said Lucy Colletti, who today heads the Charlestown Operation Welcome Home effort. "When you go to one of these Welcome Home events, you cannot help but want to come back," said Colletti. "You are forever changed by the whole experience. "We are definitely making a difference in the lives of the troops," she said, "and they see they have our unconditional support back home." It's not a political matter, Levitt adds. "It's just important to support the soldiers themselves and welcome them home."