Though the National Geographic brand is best known for the information and remarkable images of our world it has provided for almost 130 years, the magazine and its television namesake also have a long history of telling stories about global conflict and its impact on members of the military, their families and society as a whole. Award-winning documentaries such as “Restrepo,” non-fiction series including “Inside Combat” and most recently, the channel’s critically praised scripted series, “The Long Road Home,” have all underscored its commitment to treating these stories with, as National Geographic Global Networks CEO Courteney Monroe says, “sensitivity, respect and credibility.”
The company will also pay tribute to military veterans and those that support them by sponsoring the Variety’s Salute to Service event, which takes place on Jan. 11 at Cipriani 25 Broadway in New York City. The salute will honor five individuals who have made a difference in the lives of military men and women: Caroline Hirsch, founder of Carolines on Broadway and the annual Stand Up for Heroes event; Wes Moore, author and CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation; ABC News chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz, whose 2007 book “The Long Road Home” served as the basis for the NatGeo series; actor and veterans’ advocate Rob Riggle, who appears in the upcoming Warner Bros. feature “12 Strong”; and Anne Heche and Hadi Tabbal, stars of NBC’s military-focused series “The Brave.”
“We traditionally don’t sponsor many events like these, but this seemed like a perfect opportunity to show our appreciation to everyone who has shared their stories with us,” says Monroe. “The NatGeo brand has consistently strived to tell those stories with accuracy and honesty, which has been reflected in projects like ‘The Long Road Home.’
“Our cast was so committed to doing [that] story justice,” adds Monroe. “That commitment came through on the screen, and really resonated with our audience as well as with critics, and the response of the real-life soldiers and families whose stories were profiled was nothing short of remarkable.” As a result of that adherence to recounting these experiences “with purpose,” as Monroe says, NatGeo has forged a strong relationship with the military.
“National Geographic’s yellow border, as we like to call it, represents one of the most trusted brands in the world,” says Monroe. “Authenticity has long been a hallmark of our brand, and it is that authenticity that builds trust among our constituents, including the military.”
That connection has helped NatGeo gain unparalleled access to the inner workings of the military: the channel was the only media entity allowed to film extensively at Guantanamo Bay. The eight-part documentary series “Chain of Command,” which premieres Jan. 15, will feature exclusive access to military personnel, “from the highest offices of the Pentagon to the boots on the ground across the globe,” as Monroe says, to explore the U.S. military’s decision-making process in fighting the war against global extremism.
“In the end, it was our filmmakers and producers, along with the power of the National Geographic brand, that enabled us to gain the trust and the respect of the military in order to secure such unprecedented access.”
Civilians and service members alike should know that NatGeo will remain committed to telling military stories in 2018 and beyond. “Chain of Command,” which took the better part of two years to complete, will provide exceptional insight into and intimate conversations with the military’s “chain of command,” including Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., the 19th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the nation’s highest ranking military officer. “We are incredibly proud of the show and very grateful to the United States military for allowing our cameras such tremendous access,” says