It was a quote from Thomas Mann that moved her: “Be afraid to die until you have done something for mankind.” With more than 28 years of service in the U.S. Army, including three deployments – one stateside tour of duty during the Gulf War, command of a Combat Stress Control Detachment at Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay, and one tour of duty in Iraq – Col. Kathy Platoni, Psy.D. has ventured “beyond the wire” and into the crucible of war to care for those who need it most. Additionally, in 2001, she was deployed to Ground Zero in support of the New York Police Department in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
An expert in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Platoni works with people whose wounds, although not directly inflicted by bombs or bullets, are just as severe, counteracting flashbacks, nightmares, sleep disorders, panic and other symptoms of “the horrors of war.” Platoni's expertise in treating PTSD cases and other topics in clinical psychology has given her voice national attention, and she has been quoted in The Washington Post, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report on MSNBC and in other local and national publications.
A psychology major, it was at William Smith that Platoni says she learned to commit herself to a higher purpose. “I learned that life is about finding something you can give of yourself,” she says. “Education is not just a degree but finding something to do for humanity.”
On Friday, March 28, Platoni will give a public lecture titled “War Head: The Psychological Toll of War – Lessons Learned from Operation Iraqi Freedom,” at 3:45 p.m. in the Geneva Room. She will present with Sgt. Ryan Vallery and include excerpts from her documentary.
In recognition of her lifelong dedication to serving others and for the inspiration she provides for the women who follow her, after her talk, Platoni will be presented with the William Smith Alumnae Association’s Achievement Award for her leadership, courage and service. “Of all the medals I've received during my time,” she says, “this surpasses them all.”
Inaugurated in 1999, the William Smith Alumnae Association's Alumna Achievement Award recognizes alumnae who have achieved distinction and excellence in their fields of endeavor, have encouraged other women to achieve to their highest potential, and have demonstrated that they have woven into the fabric of their lives the values and mission of William Smith College and its Alumnae Association.