Insider's Blog: "Shell Shock (Part 1)"
Posted on Nov 12, 2012 10:55pm

I have to start by thanking all of our brave men and women overseas, as well as our veterans here at home. This episode is a tribute to them. To their commitment, their bravery, their love of country.

Today, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects thousands of our nation's finest. It's a growing concern within the military, affecting many returning combat vets. And it's complicated. Very complicated. That's because each case is as unique and varied as the veterans themselves. But none of that stopped our amazing showrunner, Gary Glasberg, from wanting to tackle the subject head on. His goal was to craft a powerful story to encompass two episodes during November sweeps (a two-parter, if you will). And back in May, he came to Gina Lucita Monreal and me and told us to get to work.

So began several weeks of research and conversation, as we set about to give these episodes the care and attention they deserved. I read as much as I could, watched veterans' testimonials on line, and heard dozens of stories from men and women who were suffering privately and publicly. And the more I learned, the more these stories stayed with me. There was Travis Twiggs, a 36 year-old Marine Corps Staff Sergeant who served multiple tours and could just "never get his head right." There was 30 year-old Noah Pippin, a veteran of three combat tours in Iraq, who walked into the mountains of Montana and was never heard from again. And then there were the men of the Second Battallion, Fourth Marine Regiment, who gather every Memorial Day near Houston to honor and celebrate their fallen comrades.

These veterans helped inspire the story we eventually settled on. A simple yet powerful tale, really – about a young veteran trying to find his way home. And we could not have been luckier to cast a great actor to play the lead character, ‘Captain Joe Westcott.' Brad Beyer's thoughtful performance moved us all. His ‘Westcott' is the true emotional center of this story. And right along with him is Glen Powell, who plays his brother. Their scenes together are among the most powerful. Finally, Mark Harmon is the complex, beating heart of this story. He immersed himself with such skill and compassion, and it shows in each and every frame. His performance is truly special.

Thank you to Leslie Libman for her sensitive, nuanced direction. Thank you also to our insanely talented editorial team, Mitch Stanley and James Hightower. This was a challenging episode, but they never blinked an eye. They just made it better. And of course, thank you to all of you – The Fans. You stay with us week after week, story after story. But this week, I hope this story stays with you long after it's over. Just as the stories of our incredible veterans have stayed with me....

Nicole Mirante-Matthews, Co-Executive Producer