Choose Action Over Apathy

Brandon Callahan

"Veteran or civilian, your community needs you, your country needs you, and our world needs all of us."

Service called to me. For as long as I can remember, I have been inexplicably drawn to putting others before myself. Since I was young, I envisioned myself in the U.S. armed services, answering the call to protect those who cannot protect themselves.

When I turned 18, I took my oath of enlistment and answered the call in my own way, serving eight proud years in the United States Marine Corps. Like many others who served during the global war on terror, I found myself engaged to protect populations against oppressors. The time I spent deployed, I felt like a very small cog in a very large wheel, but regardless of how small, I felt I was making a difference in the lives of people who needed help.

Since taking the uniform off I discovered I could not stop serving. There is just as great of a need outside of the military for people who are dedicated to leaving the world a better place than they found it, for those who are dedicated still to answering the call to help those in their greatest times of need. I have dedicated a significant amount of time to Team Rubicon, an organization that unites the skills of veterans and first responders to rapidly and efficiently respond to disasters around the globe. My sense of purpose was restored by filling a need here at home.


Brandon served as Team Rubicon’s incident commander for Operation Country Roads in the wake of severe flooding in West Virginia.


Series and films like National Geographic’s Chain of Command need to be seen by the American public. It’s important we understand the true nature of the longest ongoing conflict in our nation’s history. We, as a people, must understand what we have committed to, and the impact that our efforts are having. I believe there’s value in civilians getting a glimpse behind the curtain of military actions and strategy in order to best understand that things are never as cut-and-dried as the 6 o’clock news might have you believe. Equally, however, it’s important for our veterans and military families to see ongoing actions and understand our efforts were not for nothing.

All enemies, foreign and domestic. That is the oath we swore when we put on that uniform and served. We did not hope for rewards or glory as we completed our missions on foreign soil, just as the men and women shown in Chain of Command are doing their duty without counting the cost. But there is one thought that sticks in my mind as I watch this series: do not forget the ‘domestic’ part of that oath.


Brandon also served homeowners affected by flooding in South Carolina, his first operation with Team Rubicon in 2015.


Once you take the uniform off, you are not done. You can’t be. You have the skills to make the world a better place. Our domestic enemy at home is apathy, not helping our fellow man in times of need. Serve. Be the positive change that you want to see in the world, and that our world so desperately needs right now. If you are reading this, this call goes out to you. Veteran or civilian, your community needs you, your country needs you, and our world needs all of us. Do not silently watch suffering when you can get involved and do something about it. Inaction is not an option.


Watch the new eight-part docuseries Chain of Command on Mondays at 9/8c,​ only on National Geographic.

Read More Stories