The Mental Health Association of Westchester (MHA) was thrilled to present An Evening of Conversation and Music with Modern Warrior LIVE on Wednesday, October 24th at the Chappaqua Performing Arts Center. Highlighting shared human experience, resilience and hope, Modern Warrior LIVE is a theatrical musical performance about one veteran’s experience of returning to civilian life and the role of the arts in his recovery from trauma.
Through a tapestry of story and music, the Modern Warrior LIVE ensemble shared a personal and emotional journey of the challenges of military service and the hurdles veterans face when transitioning back home. Co-created by United States Military Veteran Jaymes Poling and musician Dominick Farinacci, Modern Warrior LIVE shines a spotlight on behavioral health challenges and pathways to recovery.
“This is a universal story. It’s not specific to an American who served,” said Farinacci. “It’s really a story of struggle, adversity, challenges and, ultimately, the positive growth that can come from that.”
Narrated by Staff Sergeant Poling, who spent three years in Afghanistan as an infantryman, the autobiographical production details Poling’s time in the military and his subsequent transition back home. His powerful story is complemented by dynamic musical performances led by Farinacci, a Mack Avenue recording artist and former Global Ambassador to Jazz at Lincoln Center. One of only four trumpeters in the world to be selected as the inaugural students in the Juilliard School’s first jazz curriculum, Farinacci has distinguished himself as a soloist, bandleader and composer with a vision.
“The performance spans all generations of music,” Farinacci said in a recent interview. “The audience can expect to hear a lot of songs they’ve heard before, but in a completely different context, as well as completely new material.”
The evening included a pre-event reception featuring drinks, dinner-by-the-bite and exclusive raffle and silent auction prizes. Following the performance, the audience enjoyed a talk-back session and Q&A with Modern Warrior LIVE creators.
Proceeds from the event help The Mental Health Association of Westchester provide a broad array of behavioral health programs and services to children, teens and adults, as well as establish support for the extended military community.
As musical entertainment, the performance was impressive and powerful; as conversation, it mirrored MHA’s mission of advocacy and the agency’s deeply held belief in recovery.
Prior to the performance, The Mental Health Association of Westchester was pleased to present its first-ever Community Hero Award to Joseph Geraci, LMHC, PhD, for his achievements and commitments in the field of veterans services and mental health. Geraci is a New York State Licensed Mental Health Counselor, a graduate of the Clinical Psychology doctoral program at Teachers College (Columbia University), was a Lieutenant Colonel (Retired, Infantry) in the US Active Army and the co-founder of the Resilience Center for Veterans & Families at Teachers College. He currently works with the VA's Mental Illness, Research, Education and Clinical Center at the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the Bronx, where he focuses on education and clinical practice initiatives to assist Veterans.
Being a combat leader, scholar and mental health provider have equipped him with a unique viewpoint that he hopes to continue to use to increase the psychological fitness level of Service Members (past, present and future), as well as their families.