In the News
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE THIN BLUE LINE OF THE DAYTON POLICE DEPARTMENT
21 August 2019
To the Officers of the Dayton Police Department,
There is still much to be spoken about the recent and horrific mass shooting in the Oregon District and its widespread impact on the entire Dayton community. There is even more to be said about the how this has infiltrated the lives of everyone on the force, far beyond those who were on scene, as well as the need to take care of both the psyche and the soma in the aftermath of tragedies of such epic proportions. Add to this how very important it is to include taking care of one another, often the very best medicine of all.
Critical incidents have the potential to completely overwhelm those effective coping skills usually called into play and that have previously served you well on the job.
These incidents are sudden, abrupt, unexpected and erupt with a powerful impact, physically, psychologically, behaviorally, and spiritually. Critical incidents fall outside the realm of normal human experience, even for the most seasoned law enforcement officer, and are likely to ravage the psyche with all senses blaring with what cannot be unseen, unfelt, or unheard. Avoiding and not dealing with critical incident stress will likely have longstanding and adverse consequences for all exposed to them. It is not only normal, but expected, for first responders of all types to experience and to manifest significant reactions to distressing, horrific, tragic, and life threatening events.
These events may include, but are not limited to, line of duty deaths, the suicide of a coworker, officer involved shootings, mass casualties, the death of a child, and loss of life following prolonged rescue attempts. Left unchecked and unspoken, the impact of critical incidents can become debilitating over time…..but there is much more to the story when it comes to learning how to plow through that which has the potential to exact such an enormous emotional toll and that disallows the mind to make peace with tragic circumstances that engulf the soul.
The time is long past due to bring the stigma of mental health services to an end. If one sustains a physical injury or suffers a medical crisis, it is appropriate to seek treatment at the nearest emergency room. Psychological wellbeing is no less important that physical health. The two are inextricably linked. What it takes to do this job as a law enforcement officer well is both. Too often it becomes so much easier to point the finger rather than to take a look inside and examine oneself. This also means not pushing fellow officers already teetering on the edge right into the abyss. If one’s decision to become a law enforcement officer was to perform good deeds, then by all means do. Walk a beat in your fellow officers’ boots for a minute. How far can the police officer bend before he or she breaks? Nobody gets out of this job unscathed.
There is no off switch for what you experience on the job. There no unseeing the horror and all things vile to which you are continuously exposed. Trauma is unforgettable. In police work, the subtle and cumulative nature of trauma is even more damaging and durable to the soul and the psyche, wear and tear over years and decades that can eat away at you from the inside out. And sometimes there is no turning off or shutting down what you did, what you felt, what you are doomed to live with for the remainder of your career.
Never forget that suffering with this is a choice. Being courageous enough to ask for help resets the bar for self-care and the psychological gun belt that needs to be worn. Not a one of you is a robo cop, devoid of feelings. Allowing oneself to be emotionally vulnerable or to confront the steaming pile that becomes your insides is a sign of strength. This is not horse hockey for a second; so is the unadulterated fact that burying the stress of police work and stuffing it as far down your gullet as it will go, combined with access to firearms, may become the perfect recipe for allowing suicidal impulses to come to full fruition.
One needs to look no further past the CDC facts that the police officer has a 54 percent greater risk for suicide than other run of mill employee (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/27/nyregion/nypd-suicides.html). It is true that up to a point, no suicidal person really wants to die, but at the end of the day, they seem to have run out of any alternatives……and then despair and a lack of belongingness begin to close the curtain on any remaining will to live. It is up to each and every one of you to assure that not another one of you gets dropped off there.
Acting honorably is hardly the case when bashing the reputation of a fellow officer and casting them in the very most negative light when they have the audacity to seek mental health intervention. These are the very people who would take a bullet for you, the same officers who have your six. And just how does it feel when no when has your back, except to speak behind it in hushed tones? The importance of what and how we communicate is poignantly illustrated by the following words of Attorney Jeffrey T. Cox, “We must take responsibility for the words that we use, because these words are powerful, and when spoken or written with the intent to harm, they are weapons that can tear through the fabric of society. Some will suggest this is a Pollyanna perspective; that urging us all ‘to just get along’ is silly. I disagree. Ill-spoken words have destroyed nations, launched world wars, broken homes, destroyed lives with all manner of aggression. And to what good end?” (Cox, 2019).
Do not kill off the parts of yourself that haunt you from the inside out by silencing them. The only way to begin to heal is to break your own silence. Do not destroy the souls of others by gagging the parts that render them the most vulnerable.
Do not further destroy the remnants of the remaining morale that threatens to consume an already beleaguered profession. Ask what you can do for your fellow officer. Include yourself in that equation. This may be the bravest decision you will ever make. Help is on the way. Just ask.
“Be a lamp, be a lifeboat, or a ladder. Help someone’s soul heal.
Walk out of your house like a shepherd.”
~ Rumi, 2019
Kathy Platoni, Psy.D., DAIPM, FAIS
COL (RET), US Army
COL, Ohio Military Reserve/State Defense Forces
Dayton SWAT “Doc”
Tribute jumps for the extraordinary
men and women of the Dayton Police Department #DaytonStrong
Cox, J.T. (2019, August 18). A Plea for Civility in an Increasingly Uncivil Nation. Dayton Daily News. / Rumi. (2019, August 17). Retrieved from bluecourage.com
Dr. Kathy Platoni talks to WHIO-TV regarding mass shooting
Following the shocking and horrific mass shooting in Dayton, Lee Jean Heller and I, both members of the SW Ohio Critical Incident Stress Management Team for almost 3 decades, were interviewed by WHIO news anchor, Cheryl McHenry.
We spoke about the devastating impact of this monumental tragedy during the early morning hours of August 4th and of trauma upon first responders, as well as the entire Dayton community. Nine innocent civilians were killed during this massacre. The City of Dayton has been rocked by continual tragedies since the eve of Memorial Day this year, when many areas of SW Ohio were leveled or severely damaged by 15 tornadoes in rapid succession. #DaytonStrong
Dayton shooting: Ft. Hood survivor helps officers deal with stress of ‘carnage’
First responders on the scene of Dayton’s mass shooting — those who took down a gunman and others who treated the wounded — may find it hard to heal emotionally from the experience, said clinical psychologist Dr. Kathy Platoni.
“Even for the most seasoned officers, you are going to see some psychological reactions,” Platoni said. “This certainly has a far-reaching impact on anybody who was there and who had to witness this kind of carnage.”
Situational awareness: Why knowing your location can keep you safe during severe weather
“Who owns a map anymore? We rely on our GPS,” said Kathy Platoni, psychologist. “We rely on Google Maps, on our cell phones.”
“We’ve had the ultimate wake-up call in the Dayton area,” said Platoni. “It’s time to pay attention.”
Knowing where you are on a map is very important to staying alive.
Local doctor's mission to help SWAT members cope after traumatic situations
Platoni, who is a 34-year army veteran helps SWAT members, victims and family members at the scene of a crime. The retired colonel who has served overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, now is working to help those families and SWAT members cope with the stress of a standoff or shooting. Click image for 2:06-min interview.
Retired Army Colonel explains how to deal with active shooter situations
Dr. Kathy Plantoni, who is a retired Army Colonel talked to News Center 7 on Monday and explained how it can be difficult from a mentality perspective, to deal with active shooter type scenarios.
Referenced chronologically and by topic.
She survived the Fort Hood shooting. Now she’s counseling Dayton’s first responders. Military Times, August 2019
Dayton shooting: Ft. Hood survivor helps officers deal with stress of ‘carnage’ Dayton Daily News, August 2019
Nashport resident heads up mass casualty training Times Recorder, March 2019
Most military efforts miss target on suicide prevention The National Psychologist, November 2018
Police stress reduction study has Dayton officers wearing devices off duty Dayton Daily News, November 2018
Training for Survival: Training Provides Realistic Instruction on How to React in Active Shooting Incidents Training Industry, October 2018
Active Shooter: What’s Your Plan of Action? Security, August 2018
Active Shooter Training Can Help Save Lives Training Industry, August 2018
HBOT: Brain Healing Hidden in Plain Sight Part II Combat Stress, May 2018
HBOT: Brain Healing Hidden in Plain Sight Part I Combat Stress, March 2018
Honoring Those Who Have Served in the U.S. Armed Forces Hobart and William Smith Colleges, November 2017
Lives of Consequence Hobart and William Smith Colleges, October 2017
The Discarded Veteran - Independence Day 2017 LemonWire, July 2017
PTSD Treatment Restricted by Cost-Containment National Psychologist, May 23, 2017
Veteran Retreats: Immersion, Healing and Bonding in Community Combat Stress, May 2017
VA Choice Care Plan Extended Dayton Daily News, April 20, 2017
The Epidemic of Veteran Suicides Combat Stress, February 2017
Ohio Military Reserve. Columbus Dispatch July 1, 2017
Fort Hood Massacre
The is the first installment, we hope, of a full expose and a much larger story real truths behind the Fort Hood Massacre.
Mr. Howard Berry and I have labored unceasingly to obtain the long overdue recognition deserved by the victims and the benefits due them and their families. The manipulation of the facts surrounding this event is a blot on our country's honor and must be redressed.
Judicial Watch was helping in this mission, but this is no on hold due to funding issues. Here is a 9-minute video highlighting the case of one of the casualties. ( I am a survivor of the Fort Hood Massacre.) I hope that you will view this 9-minute documentary and pass it on to others so that they will be sufficiently compelled to join us in demanding justice for those who gave and continue to give the last full measure of devotion to our country.
While this national tragedy occurred 8 years ago, medical disability payments are still being denied the wounded because the shooter, Nidal Hasan, is not deemed an enemy of the state and the Fort Hood Massacre is not considered an act of domestic terrorism. There have been 6 suicides, per Mr. Berry, among the wounded and the survivors, including his beloved son.
Throughout the course of the last 5 years, I have contacted and implored 19 Congresspersons for assistance and intervention on behalf of the wounded and the families of the fallen and all of them have failed to respond to our pleas. Mr. Berry has personally contacted every single elected official in this great United States, but to no avail. Many actually slammed their doors in his face. This is purely contemptible.
Though the Purple Heart Medal was awarded to the 33 Soldiers and 13 KIA in 2015, the requisite benefits that accompany the Purple Heart have not. Furthermore, those who received other than gunshot wounds received nothing.
Please take a few minutes to watch this documentary and join us in taking action, whether active duty military, reserve forces, National Guard, civilian or simply interested in the pursuit of justice for the many victims of this tragedy.
Hasan's Victims Struggle to Carry On-San Antonio Express. March 11, 2016
Neglecting Fort Hood Survivors Is a National Disgrace. Time Magazine. April 19, 2016
Fort Hood Survivors Still Struggle to Recover. May 25, 2016
The Radicalization of Nidal Hasan- From Medical Student to Mass Murderer. Lemon Wire. August 20,2016
The Fort Hood Massacre-a Message to the Heartless. Life Net, September 27, 2016
A Perpetual Travesty of Justice – The Fort Hood Massacre. Lemon Wire. October 1, 2016
The Fort Hood Massacre 7th Anniversary ~ A Tribute to the Fallen and the Wounded. Lemon Wire. November 8, 2016
Memories of Ft. Hood rampage: 'He died at my knees.' LA Times. April 9, 2015
Fort Hood shooting victims denied pay and benefits (Video). FOX News. March 22, 2015
The Army’s Fort Hood Disgrace. Wall Street Journal. March 19, 2015
Fort Hood massacre victims, wounded to get Purple Hearts. Dayton Daily News. Feb. 10, 2015
Ft. Hood Victims May Get Purple Heart, Lingering Questions Remain. TownHall.com. Dec. 8, 2014
Retired Col. calls for Ft Hood massacre to be labeled terrorist attack. Dayton Daily News. Nov. 14, 2014
Killeen Worried About GI's with PTSD (pdf). San Antonio Express. April 6, 2014
Mental Health a Focus in Shooting. Dayton Daily News. April 6, 2014.
Fort Hood Tears Down Site Of 2009 Massacre. Huffington Post. Feb. 18, 2014
TheBlaze Investigation: How Obama and the Army Betrayed the Victims of Fort Hood. TheBlaze.com Feb. 12, 2014
Bury Their Purple Hearts at Ft. Hood. TownHall.com. Jan. 11, 2014
Army Psychologist Helps Soldiers Heal. Dayton Daily News. Sept. 12, 2012
Returning Home: Repeat deployments build trauma. Dayton Daily News. March 27, 2012
Apparent suicide of soldier from Dayton reflects disturbing trend. Dayton Daily News. Dec. 5, 2010
Healers Head to War, Bearing Their Own Wounds. Washington Post. Dec. 5, 2009
Fort Hood Unit Deploys Despite Losses. AP. Dec. 4, 2009
Editorial: Local Fort Hood Survivor, Other Reservists Deserve Healing. Dayton Daily News. Dec. 1, 2009
Reservists become 'family' after Fort Hood tragedy. Dayton Daily News. Nov. 29, 2009
Witnesses say reservist was Fort Hood hero. USA Today. Nov. 11, 2009
Finally, a lot of lives are no longer on hold. San Antonio Express. Aug. 29, 2013
Nidal Hasan sentenced to death for Fort Hood shooting rampage. Washington Post. Aug. 28. 2013
Hasan sentenced to death for Fort Hood massacre. Military.com. Aug. 28, 2013.
Victims' relatives saw grisly photos in Fort Hood shooting. Houston Chronicle. Aug. 25, 2013.
Fort Hood shooter convicted; local survivor 'ecstatic' at verdict. Dayton Daily News. Aug. 23, 2013.
Fort Hood Survivors to Face Gunman at Trial. Yahoo News. June 4, 2013
Second Fort Hood Attack
Retired Col. Calls for Ft. Hood Massacre to be Labeled Terrorist Attack (PDF). Dayton Daily News. Nov. 14, 2014
How to stop the next Fort Hood attack. TIME. April 3, 2014.
Fort Hood Shooting Then and Now (video). CNN. April 3, 2014
Platoni '74: Shock and awe again. Hobart and William Smith Colleges. April 4, 2014.
Killeen residents worry about PTSD problem at Fort Hood. San Antonio Express News. April 6, 2014.
Second Active Shooter At Fort Hood (video). FOX News. April 7, 2014
Women in the Military
Women in combat plan opens opportunities. Dayton Daily News. Jan. 24, 2013
Darkness Made Visible. WGAW. November/December 2012
Military Women Coping With PTSD. BrainLineMilitary.org
The police academy commencement speech every cop should read. Police1.com. March 12, 2015
White House Intruder Seen as Victim of Iraq War. Express News. Sept. 26, 2014
Soldiers Dying in Battle for Mental Health. Hartford Courant. April 4, 2014
Christopher Dorner Not A Sociopath, Experts Say. Huffington Post. Feb. 14, 2013
PTSD name change heartens advocates. Dayton Daily News. March 10, 2012.
Deployed Soldiers Cope With Illness. Newsweek. March 13, 2010
The War That Never Ends. WTOP. Dec. 21, 2009
Army official: Suicides in January "Terrifying." CNN. Feb. 5, 2009
Soldiers Self Harm: 'Anything Not to Go Back to Iraq.' Newsweek. June 7, 2008
After the Shooting-Zoroya. USA Today, June 13, 2016
Dishonorable Discharges. Columbus Dispatch June 16, 2016
Orlando Shooting. USA Today, June 15, 2016
VAMC Expose. Daily Caller. July 14, 2016
IVAT Award, Hobart and William Smith Colleges. August 24, 2016
APA Slandered Military Psychologists. April 2016
Military Falls Short in Treating New PTSD Cases. Dayton Daily News February 19, 2016
Special Court Helps Veterans In Trouble. The Columbus Dispatch. Dec. 14, 2015
Platoni '74 to appear on FOX News (PDF). Hobart and William Smith Daily Update. March 20, 2015
A Healing Force (PDF). Pulteney Street Survey. Summer 2014.
Serving Her Country and Her Alma Mater (PDF). Wheeler Society. Summer 2014
Local Colonel Who Survived Fort Hood Shooting Retires. Dayton Daily News. Aug. 20, 2014
A Healing Force (PDF). Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Summer 2014
Long War Took Toll on Local Families. Dayton Daily News. March 15, 2014