An editorial by Kathy Platoni ’74, clinical psychologist and retired Army colonel, appeared in Time Magazine on April 19 titled “Neglecting Fort Hood Survivors Is a National Disgrace.” In her article, Platoni, who was on site the day of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, calls on the country to take care of our service men and women.
A post-traumatic stress disorder expert, Platoni majored in psychology at William Smith. 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. She has been deployed several times, one stateside tour of duty during the Gulf War, a command of a Combat Stress Control Detachment at Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay, one tour of duty in Iraq, and once during the aftermath of 9/11 to support the New York Police Department at Ground Zero. Platoni also was deployed to the combat theater of Afghanistan with the 467th Medical Detachment (Combat Stress Control) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
A 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, Huffington Post, AP News and other local and national publications. She co-wrote and co-edited two books with Dr. Ray Scurfield: “War Trauma and Its Wake: Expanding the Circle of Healing” and “Healing War Trauma: A Handbook of Creative Approaches.” Platoni has also published three chapters in a book titled, “We Thought We Were Invincible: The True Story of Invincible Warriors” by Dr. Art F. Schmitt. Platoni’s chapters give voice to many of the experiences she has dealt with as a colonel and psychologist in the U.S. Army.
Platoni returned to campus in March 2014 as a President’s Forum speaker to give a talk titled, “When Trauma Doesn’t Bleed: The Pyschological Toll of War.”
The magazine article follows:
Time Magazine Inc. Network
Neglecting Fort Hood Survivors Is a National Disgrace
April 19, 2016
Kathy Platoni is a retired Colonel in the U.S. Army and a survivor of the Fort Hood massacre.
Too many survivors don’t have access to the benefits they need
Nearly seven years after the national tragedy of the Fort Hood massacre, little has changed. Despite the unveiling of the magnificent memorial in Killeen, Texas, on March 11 to pay tribute to the wounded and the fallen, this catastrophic event and its victims have been largely forgotten. Thirteen innocents lost their lives and more than 30 were wounded that day, gunned down by a self-proclaimed radical jihadist who advocated for the burnings and beheadings of his fellow soldiers.
It is long past due time for the truth to be disseminated across the land: The Fort Hood Massacre was unequivocally and indisputably an act of terrorism. The Army prosecuted the shooter on murder charges, not terrorism ones, and considered it the act of a disgruntled employee, even though the shooter had messaged with a member of al-Qaeda before the attack.
Neglecting to call the massacre terrorism meant that it took almost six years for the U.S. to award Purple Heart medals to the victims and the families of the fallen. They were only awarded these medals last April after Congress broadened the requirements for recipients to include attacks where “the individual or entity was in communication with the foreign terrorist organization before the attack.”
At that time, Secretary of the Army John McHugh agreed to grant special compensations to the wounded in action and the families of those killed in action. To date, many of these endowments have yet to be provided in full. Furthermore, these special compensations will pathetically never be paid retroactively to the date of the Fort Hood massacre, but only to the date of the Purple Heart ceremony.
Some of the wounded have been obtaining medical treatment on their own dime, desperately trying to restore themselves to health and to find their way back to any degree of normalcy. And then there are the psychological wounds, which often remain unspoken and are often unlikely to ever heal. Joshua Berry, a survivor of the massacre, suffered from post-traumatic stress and committed suicide in 2013. The Army should have done more to help him and others like him.
How much longer it will take for full benefits and entitlements to be delivered remains an unknown, egregious neglect. During the State of the Union Address in January of 2010, President Barack Obama, in front of God and country, promised SGT Kimberly Munley, one of two civilian police officers to apprehend the shooter, that all of the wounded, herself included, would be fully restored to wellbeing. Munley, who was laid off due to budget cuts, has since said she has felt “betrayed” by how the Army treated the survivors. For shame, America.
We cannot afford to endure in downplaying the dangers inherent in these United States, as enemies rage within our borders and the escalating threat of radical jihadism produces no significant response. Nor can we ignore those who live the warrior ethos to protect and defend, and who make a solemn promise to willingly lay down their lives for every citizen of this nation and the freedoms we once cherished. Failing to do so constitutes a national disgrace.
In the photo above by Brendan Smialowski-AFP/Getty Images, soldiers listen to the U.S. national anthem during a memorial service at Fort Hood in Texas on April 9, 2014.