On Sunday, April 19, four veteran servicemen performed the debut of “Conscience Under Fire,” a series of monologues, at The Betsy Hotel in South Beach as part of the Miami Dade College’s MDC Live Art. Among the performers was Barry University School of Social Work student Sgt. Anthony Torres.
Currently in his first year in Barry’s Social Work MSW program, Torres was integral in getting this project off the ground. He previously served as a mental health specialist in the Army where his job included assessing American soldiers to make sure they could manage the stresses of war. Upon his return from Iraq in 2005, Torres found poetry as an outlet to manage feelings of emptiness and loneliness.
“There are often these misconceptions and gaps in understanding the unique military culture and lifestyle. Reintegration for veterans proves difficult for most of us,” said Torres. “At the same time, many of our feelings are common to the human condition. Love. Loss. Pain. Loneliness. Detachment. Alienation.”
Written by the four veterans, “Conscience Under Fire” is an intensely personal show that offers a public peek into their lives, from childhood to combat to the post-military chapters. Torres hopes that offering honest stories will aid to help other veterans process traumatic combat experience.
“One of the goals is to encourage the therapeutic value of reading, writing, performing and sharing stories about our combat experience,” said Torres. “This is a way of healing.”
Torres hopes to continue to work with the military and veteran communities as a clinical social worker with the Department of Veterans Affairs upon graduation. He sees “Conscience Under Fire” as a link between art and the practice of social work.
“I think our show definitely aligns with several of social work’s values,” said Torres. “Our goal is to advocate, inform, educate, and entertain about veterans issues including mental health, reintegration, and readjustment back into society after military service.”
The show is not currently scheduled for any future performances, but Torres and his colleagues will meet with MDC Live Arts in May to discuss the future of the project. “It is definitely our goal to bring the show to a larger, broader audience,” said Torres.
A version of this article, written by Audra D.S. Burch, originally appeared in the April 16 edition of The Miami Herald. The original article can be read in its entirety here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article18690642.html