North Dakota's governor, Jack Dalyrimple, issued an executive order, demanding mandatory evacuation of the Dakota Access Pipeline's main camp site. The governor cites that "harsh" weather conditions can make it difficult if not impossible for protesters to remain safe at the camp and this will also make it hard for emergency personnel to gain access to the site. Michael A. Wood Jr., and the 2,000 veterans he's bringing to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, are willing to take the risk. Veterans Stand for Standing Rock will travel to Standing Rock next week to serve as "human shields" for DAPL protestors. 

Wood, a former marine, put out a call to Veterans asking them to volunteer at Standing Rock on December 4-7. He only expected about 500 veterans to respond to his call, but instead he got 2,000. The veterans' non-violent defense of protestors will help aid in the ongoing clash between police and protestors. The logistics behind the effort include setting up tents, passing out food and defending protestors against militarized police forces. The group is operating on its own in this effort. 

For some veterans, this mission is personal. Loreal Black Shawl is a retired sergeant in the Army and descendant of two Native American tribes, the Oglala Lakota and Northern Arapaho. “Ok, are you going to treat us veterans who have served our country in the same way as you have those water protectors?" Shawl said to the New York Times. “We’re not there to create chaos. We are there because we are tired of seeing the water protectors being treated as non-humans.” 

The willingness of our veterans to join in on a battle after serving is admirable and hopefully impactful. We will continue to monitor DAPL and see exactly how the presence of our veterans plays out. 

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