As suicide rates and other issues remain among veterans, national leaders are urging communities to step up and help. Watertown is one community that’s responded.
Watertown community leaders know military families face challenges. Sharon Roberts has a military family and says those challenges don’t only come during a deployment. They also surface as members leave for basic training, annual training and during other times.
"And to know that your community cares helps tremendously,” Roberts said. “And it sounds sappy, but it's just true.”
For that reason, Watertown community members started the Sea of Goodwill. It's run through the police department, which has a list of individuals or agencies willing to lend a hand. When a veteran or service member needs assistance, officers match the need with the appropriate group.
"It gives the veterans, their spouses, their children or their employees one place to go for help," president Mike Cartney said.
When organizers started the Sea of Goodwill a year ago, community response overwhelmed them. More than 40 entities are now on a list waiting for a military need to arise they can meet.
"It actually has picked up pretty big and we keep on getting donors, almost on a weekly basis," Watertown Police Officer Michael Nei said.
As a military family member, Roberts is happy with that response.
"To have your neighbor help out with the snow blower or to have somebody you can call that has all those resources takes such a load off your back that it's beyond words really," Roberts said.
The organization runs through the police for a couple reasons. Officers are out in the community and see many needs. Also, the department is always staffed and many needs can arise outside regular working hours.