On Wednesday, Sept. 16, Dr. Kathy Platoni ’74 served on a panel at the 2009 Defense Forum at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center in Alexandria, Va., where President Barack Obama appeared as the keynote speaker later in the day.
A clinical psychologist and colonel with the Medical Service Corps and U.S. Army Reserve, and an Army Reserve psychology consultant to the Chief of the Medical Service Corps, Platoni spoke on a panel titled “Managing the Battlefield & Beyond – A Leadership View” during a segment called “Coping with Unseen Injuries: From the Battlefield to the Homefront.”
“I believe that this defense forum is a tremendous opportunity to bring the truths to those who have failed to fully appreciate the magnitude, breadth, and depth of the problems faced by our Armed Forces-particularly those combat veterans who suffer from wounds that do not bleed and that will scar them for life without the proper interventions,” said Platoni before the forum.
“It is not even unreasonable to estimate that the numbers of psychologically wounded warriors will triple as the numbers of wartime deployments multiplies. We need to find a way for them to be able to trust sufficiently to take their suffering to mental health professionals who can demonstrate that they genuinely care and will walk the path of undoing war trauma with them, and not just attempt to medicate the problem away with bags of pills and medication combinations that are harmful, and in some cases lethal.”
During nearly 30 years of service in the U.S. Army, including three deployments, Platoni has dedicated her life to serving others, venturing “beyond the wire and into the crucible of war” to care for the soldiers who need it most.
An expert in treating post-traumatic stress disorder, Platoni works with sufferers who are just as wounded as the victims of bullets and bombs, counteracting flashbacks, nightmares, sleep disorders, panic and other symptoms of “the horrors of war.” In 2001 she was deployed to Ground Zero in support of the New York Police Department in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
Platoni has also been a vocal critic of the Army’s treatment of PTSD cases and other topics in clinical psychology. Her expertise has given her voice national attention, and she has been quoted in The Washington Post, Newsweek, MSNBC, U.S. News and World Report and other local and national publications.
A psychology major at the Colleges, it was at William Smith that Platoni says she learned to commit herself to a higher purpose. She went on to earn a master’s in education in 1975 from the University of Miami-Coral Gables and a doctorate in clinical psychology in 1985 from Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Fla.
It is because she is one of those incredible humanitarians, with an altruistic character and steadfast devotion to her fellow soldiers that on March 28, 2008, she was presented with the William Smith Alumnae Association’s Achievement Award, William Smith College Alumnae Association’s highest honor. It is awarded to an alumna who, by reason of outstanding accomplishments in her particular business, profession or community service, has brought honor and distinction to her alma mater.