The group Veterans Stand was born from this summer’s anti-Dakota Access Pipeline protests in Cannonball, North Dakota. The group of water protectors, as they call themselves, descended on the camp to oppose the pipeline’s construction. Initially, the group of military veterans raised over one million dollars through a GoFundMe campaign to support veterans’ costs of transportation to the site and other necessities. The first group of veterans arrived in December, only a few days after President Obama signed an order halting the construction of the pipeline. What began as a single protest event became an organized effort now named Veterans Stand, which is about to engage in its second deployment.
President Trump has since rescinded the easement order and replaced it with one reauthorizing construction. Despite the setback, Veterans Stand aims to hold its ground. The founder, Michael J. Wood told reporters that the group of veterans isn’t as large as it was in December, but their intentions are the same. According to Wood, “The Water Protectors are here peacefully in prayer and in ceremony as they have always been.”
The Dakota Access Pipeline will cost $3.7 billion to build and is expected to carry 470,000 barrels of crude oil a day. The route will run through Sioux tribal land that is considered sacred. It will also run through sections of South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois. Those protesting construction have voiced concern that the pipeline has the potential to disrupt and endanger the water supply of millions of people and cause other environmental problems.
The veterans at the Oceti Sakowin Camp near the construction site are committed to protecting the land and the water supply. Veterans Stand sees its mission as an extension of the oath taken by military service members upon joining the armed forces. According to the group’s mission statement the goal of Veterans Stand is to “unite citizens and all peoples through our shared military service, to fulfill the promise to defend America from enemies, foreign and domestic, by combating the oppression of our fellow human beings and working to create a better future through continued sacrifice and service.”
The organization created a new GoFundMe campaign to support their current efforts. They hope to raise $500,000 and they have currently raised over $186,000. Veterans Stand is in communication with camp leaders and is working to strengthen their support network during what they call a time of “turmoil and uncertainty.”