Soldiers’ Homecoming at Royal Falmouth

As Veteran’s Day approaches, the Royal Health Group salutes all who serve or have served our country in the military. This recent article in the Cape Cod Times tells the story of the special bond between residents of Royal Falmouth Nursing and a unit serving in Afghanistan, with a very happy ending.

‘Adopted’ soldiers honored in Falmouth

By JASON COOK
October 24, 2013
 
FALMOUTH – Staff Sgt. Dean Meehan and his unit faced some difficult days serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.

They were able to soldier on with the help of handwritten letters sent by residents of the Royal Falmouth Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, Meehan, 45, of Sandwich, said.

“The letters helped us get through some really tough times,” he said.

Meehan and four other returning soldiers were honored during an event at the center Thursday afternoon and gave thanks to those – many of them veterans themselves – who offered their support.

The center chose to “adopt” someone last year who was serving overseas, said activities director Nancy Newman. That person would regularly receive care packages, drawings, letters and prayers, she said. Residents wanted someone they “felt a connection with,” she added.

They chose Pvt. Scott Martin, whose daughter, Shauna Martin, has worked at the center since 2008.

“We’re writing to Shauna’s dad!” Newman said of the residents’ adoptee.

Residents came up with the idea to raise the money for postage by recycling plastic bottles that had accumulated in the center, about $400 worth, Newman said.

In a room with more than a dozen veterans of past conflicts, Meehan, Martin and three of their fellow unit members showed their gratitude and joined in the singing of military songs.

“Thank you all very much for what you’ve done,” Martin said, his wife and daughter by his side.

“We had angels watching over us,” Meehan said.

“The letters helped us realize the comfort we had. It put things in perspective,” said Sgt. Mychal Grady, 26.

The day held special meaning for Shauna Martin, 24, of Falmouth, who works as a certified nursing assistant at the center and whose father spent 10 long months away from home.

“I’m so happy, so thankful. It’s amazing,” she said of having her dad home. She didn’t realize it until it happened, but things were “really, really hard” without him, she said.

But she joined the residents in sending kind words to the troops. Once they heard it was her father they were sending things to, residents began to tell Shauna stories of their own about family members who had served, she said.

“I love my job,” Shauna Martin said.

One of those residents was Irene Killen, 101, who said her husband, son and father served in the military. While she expressed concern over the “suffering” international conflicts cause to families, Killen said she admired those who serve.
“We have a country we fight for. I’m very proud of all of them,” Killen said of the five returning soldiers. “They’re like my own family.”

There may be barriers between veterans of World War II and Afghanistan, but deep down, “we’re all the same,” Meehan said.

“You serve, you serve. You have that bond,” he said.

Over 316 days (“But who’s counting?”), Meehan said there were many difficult times. And while care packages of food and other necessities were welcome, “it was those letters that helped me out the most,” he said.

“They reminded us of home.”

Staff Sgt. Dean Meehan of Sandwich, right, shakes hands with Royal Falmouth Nursing & Rehab Center resident and Army veteran Bernie Devine, 85, after a welcome home ceremony Thursday for the 181st Vertical Engineering Squad of Camp Edwards. The squad, which returned from a mission in Afghanistan in July, received care packages and letters from Royal

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