The millennial generation has transformed modern-day political participation. Our new technology-driven outlets are full of potential, but not always used for the greater good.
StandUnited.org is a thriving, online petition platform that has revamped the way like-minded individuals can get behind the causes that affect their daily lives. Highly-motivated activists across the country use this platform to get the attention of decision-makers and spark change. With a Facebook community of over one million users, StandUnited has proven its ability to get the attention of large audiences and gear them towards a common goal.
Since its inception in 2015, StandUnited has been advocating for a broad range of issues, from constitutional law to educational reform. However, its audience is particularly sympathetic towards military veterans and their families.
The Political Insider, a reputable media outlet, published a petition on StandUnited in March 2015 to allow PTSD service dogs in hospitals run by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). According to their petition, “the only dogs allowed in the VA are dogs that help with vision, hearing and mobility issues, as well as seizure-response dogs.” The petition-signers were firm on their beliefs that all veteran disabilities should be treated equally, even if there is not an obvious physical impairment.
In March 2016, Texans took to the popular petition website to save the Hazlewood Legacy Act. This legislation provides Texas veterans and their family members with up to 150 hours of tuition exemption. Although the program was at risk in 2015 and 2016, eligibility requirements remain unchanged. StandUnited has shown that there is strength in numbers. When communities band together and speak with one voice, it is hard for their representatives to ignore them.
There is one petition, in particular, that seems to stick out amongst all the others. StandUnited called on Congress to require all VA employees to answer the Veterans Crisis Line, after noticing a pattern of neglect. The petition states that 22 military veterans take their lives every day, and over one-third of their calls to the crisis line go unanswered. The petition was published in September of last year and has gathered over 25,000 signatures.
It has been over a year since this problem went public, and the VA has still not upheld its promise to fix the system. National news outlets from May and June of this year continue to call VA employees who answer the hotline “deficient” and “unsupervised.”
StandUnited gives every user the opportunity to include their reason for signing each petition. Senior Campaign Organizer Angela Morabito explains the importance of this feature in her own words. “StandUnited users see what Congress doesn’t – that there are simple, concrete steps that the VA can take right now to support our veterans. Many of our petition signers say that they know someone who has used the mental health crisis line. By using online advocacy, they get to make their voices heard in a way that wasn’t happening before,” she says.
These are just a few examples of the issues that StandUnited raises awareness for every day. StandUnited works alongside individuals and nonprofits nationwide to shape the political landscape and fight for justice.
Creating a petition is absolutely free, and is the new norm for social change. Military veterans are the pillars of our free society, and advocating on their behalf has never been so easy. Every citizen can make an impact in a matter of seconds by signing a petition on StandUnited.