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Care for veterans in spotlight on ‘The Night Shift’

Eoin Macken plays T.C. Callahan in “The Night Shift.” The series tackles veterans issues this season. (Courtesy of Cathy Kanavy/NBC)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Race riots. Rape. Child prostitution. Immigration. Politics.

These are some of the topics NBC’s “The Night Shift” has tackled over three seasons.

The fourth season of the medical drama series premieres at 9 p.m. tonight and the new season is sure to bring another hot topic to the small screen: veteran care.

“We’ve been trying to tackle this issue for quite some time,” says Jill Flint, who plays Dr. Jordan Alexander. “We can send people off to war and we have all this money to send them there. But there is no money or a solid program for when they get back.”

The locally filmed program follows the lives of the doctors and staff members who work the overnight shift in the emergency room at San Antonio Memorial Hospital. The majority of the doctors and staff are back in the civilian world after a few tours in Afghanistan.

Many of the characters, such as Dr. T.C. Callahan, played by Eoin Macken, have their own struggles to overcome.

Callahan is a former Army medic and Ranger from Baltimore who witnessed his brother’s death in Afghanistan. After being discharged, he returned with post-traumatic stress disorder and his relationship with Alexander ended.

“T.C. has been away from San Antonio,” Macken says of beginning the fourth season. “He’s off on a mission and it helps him. He’s actually on a journey of escapism. T.C. doesn’t want to face what’s happened to other characters or to Jordan. He’s trying to run away from anything.”

Many of the characters, such as Dr. T.C. Callahan, played by Eoin Macken, have their own struggles to overcome.

“The Night Shift” has been a steady performer for NBC since premiering in summer 2014. The series averages between 5 million and 6 million viewers.

Though set in San Antonio, the series is filmed in Albuquerque and housed at Albuquerque Studios. Production on the fourth season began in April and will conclude in July. The new season will contain 10 episodes and the cast is currently filming the eighth episode.

According to the New Mexico Film Office, the production will employ approximately 350 New Mexico crew members, 100 New Mexico principal actors and approximately 2,500 New Mexico background talent.

“Season 4 continues the strong run for ‘The Night Shift’ and Sony Pictures Television,” says Nick Maniatis, New Mexico Film Office director. “The longer a TV show runs, the more contributions to our economy and the more New Mexicans work.”

Macken says one episode this season will feature real veterans.

“I think what they’ve done really beautifully in the show is that they have always had an important topic in the show,” Macken says. “They’ve invited Michelle Obama. In this episode we’re doing, Tim Busfield is directing and it’s all veterans that is in it. What’s great about this show is that it touches on all the issues but it’s still fun at the same time and you care about the characters. It touches on stuff that is very relevant and I think that’s important and they do it in a way that’s not preachy and it allows you to have a conversation.”

Jill Flint, left, who plays Dr. Jordan Alexander, examines Mac Brandt, who plays Mac Riley, from the series “The Night Shift.” (Courtesy of John Britt/NBC)