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Westfield State hosts screening of documentary Almost Sunrise and a healing and recovery discussion

Westfield State University’s Military Community Excellence Center will host a screening of the award-winning feature documentary, “Almost Sunrise,” on April 25 at 6 p.m. in Dever Stage of Parenzo Hall, followed by a panel discussion about healing and recovery. Bennett Walsh, superintendent of Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, will provide opening remarks prior to the film.

Almost Sunrise tells the inspiring story of two Iraq War veterans as they trek 2,700 miles on foot across America in an attempt to put their haunting combat experiences behind them. Directed by Michael Collins and produced by Marty Syjuco, the film won the Moving Mountains Prize at the Telluride Mountainfilm Festival in 2016. It explores the concepts of moral injury, suicide prevention and mental health among veterans.

Following the screening, the panel discussion among professionals familiar with traumatic events will include:

Matthew Moriarty, captain, Holyoke Police Department
Henry Fristik, assistant chief, Chester (MA) Fire Department
Robert Hayes, Ph.D., chair, Westfield State graduate program in psychology
Tammy Bringaze, Ph.D., NCC, LWHC, director, Westfield State Counseling Center
Stephen Lee, M.S., PA-C, director of didactic education, Westfield State Physician Assistant program

The Westfield State Military Community Excellence Center opened in April 2017. Here, veterans, active military members and their families can access, meet and connect with outside service agencies, as well as with peer veterans and military members. Westfield State serves approximately 250 military-connected students.

Westfield State University received the 2018-19 Military Friendly School designation from Victory Media, the publisher of G.I. Jobs, and is among seven institutions in Massachusetts considered “top military friendly schools” by Military Advanced Education & Transition magazine.

The April 25 event is a precursor to National Military Appreciation Month in May.