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Poem inspires Mesa officer to help veterans

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Posted at 6:37 AM, Apr 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-06 13:09:00-04

ABC15 celebrates a Mesa police officer who is helping other veterans make the transition from soldier to civilian.

Before Sean Stoddard's life as a Mesa cop, he was in the Army spending years of his life deployed in far away places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba and Germany.  

After returning home, he saw how many of his fellow veterans were having difficulty making the transition to civilian life.

Many veterans he knew were getting divorced, suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or having run-ins with law enforcement.

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As he continued to hear about the veterans that commit suicide each day, Sean became inspired by the poem, "The Starfish". In the poem, hundreds of starfish are washed up on shore and a young boy starts throwing them back into the sea, even after knowing there's no way he can help them all. After reading this, Sean decided he too was going to stand up and help stem the tide of veterans being washed up on the shore of despair.

Sean began by joining forces with his local Boy Scout troop, and together they organized a dinner for veterans. The program was designed to bridge the generation gap by allowing the boys to meet and interact with veterans.

He does all of this in hopes of creating a "more peaceful and caring society"

At the annual event, the veterans and the boys get dressed in their uniforms and listen as the battle hymns from each service are played. After a hearty dinner, the veterans are thanked for their service, given a challenge coin to commemorate the event, as well as gifts provided to Sean by local businesses. 

At the last Veteran's Day Dinner, 80 veterans attended the event.

As great as this dinner is, Sean knew that a once-a-year event would only go so far in helping the veterans. Understanding the need for daily interaction with veterans, he now uses social media to put together online groups to provide a platform for veterans to gather and share life experiences, challenges and support.

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In addition to his work with local veterans, Sean also organizes and hosts multiple community gatherings like movies in the park, horseshoe and corn hole tournaments, and video game nights. He does all of this in hopes of creating a "more peaceful and caring society."

To be honest, there are too many other events and causes Officer Stoddard devotes his time to that can be listed here. 

Instead, I urge you to read the poem that inspired this officer to take action to make a difference in his corner of the community.

Today, we celebrate Mesa Officer Sean Stoddard, a true "Top Cop."