Less than a month after MTV teamed up with veterans' organizations around the country to introduce the Bill of Rights for American Veterans (BRAVE), the petition urging the next president to raise awareness and support for veterans' issues has already garnered 60,000 signatures. And as we honor the sacrifices of the members of our armed forces on Veterans Day, Pete Griffin, Manager of Think MTV, said that the goal of reaching 100,000 signatures on the petition is within reach.
"I don't think we knew what to expect," said Griffin. "I was hoping for a number like 100,000, but I didn't know if we'd get 2,000 or 200,000." To date, more than 23,000 of the signatures have come via text message, 35,000 through the online widget at the Think site, and several thousand more from the "Rock Band" Live Tour featuring Dashboard Confessional, Panic at the Disco and Plain White T's and the MTV Choose or Lose Tour featuring Locksley. "If we can get around that 100,000 mark then we'd feel really good about it," Griffin said.
The petition has five specific calls to action, covering such pressing issues for veterans as employment, health care, homelessness and education. In particular, BRAVE calls for the proper diagnosis and treatment of mental-health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, and increased assistance to help veterans avoid homelessness considering that, on any given night in this country, up to 200,000 veterans are homeless.
BRAVE also seeks to get disabled vets the benefits they deserve in a timely fashion, fully funding veterans' hospitals and provide an additional $1,500 a month to troops who have been stop-lossed.
One of the most encouraging aspects of the response to the BRAVE petition for Griffin is the flood of support and thanks that have streamed into the BRAVE site since
West also teamed up with MTV for "Homecoming," a show in which he and MTV News' Sway listened to the stories of several veterans, thanked them for their contributions to the country, and then helped the vets confront their challenges, including debt and adjusting to civilian life.
"We've gotten lots of feedback from veterans and their boyfriends, girlfriends and spouses, with the main message being about how nice it is that people out there actually care about these issues and they're not forgetting about these men and women and that MTV is helping to mobilize people around these issues," said Griffin.
Now, Griffin said he's trying to figure out what the next step is. "We've created the awareness and programming to show people these stories and get them informed, and they've taken action by signing the petition, but what now?" he said. If they reach the 100,000 mark, Griffin said organizers will plan ways to deliver the petition to elected officials and to President-elect Barack Obama in order to get results. "If we can say we've gotten X-number of young people to sign this petition for veterans, then we can say to them, 'What will you do now?,' " he said. Griffin said it hasn't yet been decided whether that action will take place before or after Obama's inauguration on January 20.
Head to ChooseOrLose.com and sign your name to the petition to let president-elect Obama know that taking care of our young vets is a priority.