Over 20 American veterans commit suicide every day in what’s being referred to as a “suicide epidemic” in the United States. That’s why award-winning Director Scott McCullough of Edge of Reason, LLC, an independent production company, created “The Other Note” featuring Martin Sheen.
McCullough enlisted freelance producer Windy Buhler to produce the dramatic :60 public service announcement on behalf of the National Veterans Foundation (NVF), the first 501c3 non-profit organization to form a vet-to-vet hotline, the Lifeline for Vets, providing highly successful transition and suicide prevention services for all veterans and their families.
Since 1970, NVF Founder Shad Meshad, who served as a Medical Service Officer in Vietnam, has worked to help veterans and their families. Regarding “The Other Note” PSA and the veteran suicide epidemic, Meshad says, “This is probably the most important public service announcement ever produced that addresses one of the most serious epidemics our nation has ever faced, regarding our decorated and proven heroes, who represent what America stands for, protecting our country, giving their lives – bodies and souls. The PSA’s artistic depiction is stunning, and focuses on the veteran suicide problem from our viewpoint.”
During development of “The Other Note,” McCullough researched military suicides and decided to take a different approach to the typical public service announcement. Rather than just shooting “talking heads” to ask for help, McCullough incorporated visual story elements interwoven with performers reading a poignant letter that appears to be a suicide note, but is actually a thank you note. Among the candid performances, notable activist and celebrity actor, Martin Sheen, who is an honorary NVF Board Member committed to helping veterans, challenges us with a stirring closing statement.
Regarding the PSA’s concept, McCullough states, “I wanted to present an optimistic viewpoint and a story that celebrates what happens when someone reaches out to talk, to ask, or to call a veteran that may be struggling, and to let our veterans know they have a place to call, a place that can help. This one simple action could make all the difference in a veteran’s life. Conceptually, we focused on the ‘thank you for the help’ as a message of hope, and to express what it means to a vet to have someone to talk to in their darkest hour.”
McCullough and his team are proud to present the PSA to the public. According to Buhler, "When Scott approached me to produce “The Other Note” I knew we had a powerful concept and hope this vital message will have a tangible social impact. It’s a labor of love and a call to service to help our vets and the NVF. We’re grateful to our funding partners, Kip Azzoni of Global Compassion in Action and Tim Wolf of The Wolf Foundation, our talented production teams: casting, wardrobe, props and set design, our production services company – namely Rekon Studios, our wonderful crew, composer, editor and post production partners, everyone worked hard and gave so much to help make this a reality."
Azzoni and Wolf reiterated the team’s goal, saying, “We’re happy to support this critical work and hope the PSA raises awareness that will effect real change and real action to end this terrible veteran suicide epidemic,” while McCullough notes that Meshad and the National Veterans Foundation has devoted decades to serving veterans with one of the highest Charity Navigator ratings. In McCullough’s words, “This PSA shines a much-deserved spotlight on this great foundation.”
Meshad goes on to say, “Talk is cheap, but almost everyone is moved by visuals, and this PSA has academy-award winning visuals. The point goes right through you and you don’t forget it, whether you’re someone connected to suicide, someone contemplating suicide or someone unaware of this tragic epidemic. Nothing is more powerful than the message created by Scott McCullough and his team. Now, we must get the message out, so more people know who we are and the NVF will get more support to help veterans in crisis.”