By Barbara Taormina
At virtually every City Council meeting, councillors award a commendation to someone in the city to showcase some outstanding achievement or to highlight some above-and-beyond service that has benefited the community. This week, the council celebrated one of their own and awarded a certificate of commendation to Councillor-at-Large Marc Silvestri, who served as the Director of Veterans Services for six and a half years before leaving last month to become the ombudsman, or as he says, the ombudsperson, at the Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea.
Ward 6 Councillor Richard Serino did the honors although he warned at the start there wasn’t enough time to list all of Silvestri’s accomplishments. Serino said the council was honoring Silvestri, a decorated American hero who served diligently in Afghanistan during the war on terror. “As director of veterans’ services, he has given support to all veterans in all situations, 24/7. He has met veterans in need where they are. He helped modernize the city’s office of veterans’ services and processed the most VA claims in city history, ensuring veterans are receiving the benefits they are rightly entitled to. Marc worked tirelessly with the family of Charles McMackin to give his body a proper hero’s welcome back to his hometown of Revere after being MIA for nearly 80 years,” said Serino.
Serino highlighted Silvestri’s commitment to reaching out to help those suffering with mental illness, PTSD, homelessness and addiction, his work on the covid response team, his launching a program to ensure all vets in need have wheelchairs, winter coats and groceries, and his continual efforts to honor veterans at Memorial and Veterans Day services. “I could go on, but we’d be here all night,” said Serino, who then gave the floor to Silvestri.
In typical Silvestri fashion, he thanked veterans, the city, his family and colleagues and then apologized to anyone for whom he wasn’t able to come through with support.
Now that he’s made the move to the Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea, Silvestri said, the change and leaving Revere was bittersweet. “I’m excited for the opportunity,” he said, adding that it helps that the Revere Veterans Services Office is in the very capable hands of Donna Dreezen and Julia Cervantes. “I still communicate with them daily,” he said.
In his new role, Silvestri is working to support everyone at the Veterans’ Home in Chelsea, including the large staff, residents and any and all veterans. Silvestri is doing what he does best and thrives on: solving problems. He said his job involves advocating and mediating with the goal of making the Veterans’ Home programs succeed.
He now works with a much larger and broader population that includes severely disabled vets, homeless vets and vets and their families. He’s grateful to be working for the state at this particular moment because the Healey administration has taken several major steps to assess and increase services and honor the state’s commitment to veterans.
Looking back, Silvestri said that in Revere he never knew what would come next, and he needed to always have the ability to fluctuate and be flexible. “The fluidity of the job in Revere really helped me prepare for this,” he said. “Now, at the Veterans Home as ombudsperson, that’s my role: to stay flexible.”
Silvestri is looking to continue his work and involvement in the City of Revere’s affairs. He is running to keep his at-large seat on the City Council.