(CPT) Alison Lighthall, MSN, RN, President
Alison Lighthall joined the US Army Nurse Corps as a psychiatric nurse in 2004 in response to the rapidly climbing rates of combat trauma and suicide. She made it her mission to expand an understanding of our active duty, reserve, and veteran military citizens to as many people as possible, in order to "build a bridge" that would help veterans reconnect psychologically and emotionally with their families, friends, community and country. In 2007, she received the Army's Commendation Medal for her work.
After her military discharge, she was hired by Fort Carson (CO) to be their Psychiatric Nurse Consultant and Coordinator of their Urgent Psychiatric Care Response Team, providing emergency psychiatric care to their most emotionally wounded. She was also tasked with creating a mental resilience training program for their 900 hospital staff, which was subsequently adopted by Army hospitals throughout the US.
Her clients include major metropolitan police departments, universities, correctional institutions, and hospitals across the country, assisting them with their veteran reintegration programs. An author of several articles and a frequent conference speaker and workshop leader, Alison uses her extensive clinical background and personal experiences to serve as a kind of translator of the military experience to those in the civilian sector. Her areas of expertise include combat trauma, military suicide, veteran-involved hostage negotiations, and mental resiliency. She received her bachelors degree in nursing from Eastern Michigan University in 1983 and her masters degree summa cum laude in psychiatric nursing from the University of Illinois-Chicago in 1993. She was inducted into the American Institute of Stress as a Fellow in 2011, is a member of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA) and Mensa. Alison lives in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts.
COL Kathy Platoni, Psy.D.
COL Kathy Platoni was the lead psychologist of the Combat Stress Control team that was gunned down at Fort Hood in November 2009. Despite the crushing losses, her team chose to deploy in honor and memory of their fallen comrades. They served in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom 2009-2010.
Several years earlier, during a six month tour of duty in Operation Desert Storm, COL Platoni created combat stress debriefings and crisis management programs which have been utilized throughout the U.S. Army. In response to 9/11, she voluntarily deployed to New York City on two occasions in order to provide disaster mental health and critical incident stress debriefing to members of the New York City Police Department.
She served as commander of the 1972nd Medical Detachment (Combat Stress Control) at Guantanamo Bay Cuba from 2003-2004. COL Platoni volunteered to return to active duty within weeks of her return, and deployed to Iraq in support of OIF, holding the position of Deputy Commander of Clinical Services for the 55th Medical Company (CSC) in Baghdad and seven other locations. She became Officer in Charge of Team Ar Ramadi. COL Platoni holds appointments as Assistant Clinical Professor with the School of Professional Psychology and Wright State University. She is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievment Award from her alma mater, Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY, and a Fellow in the American Institute of Stress.
Along with Dr. Ray Scurfield, she has co-edited two books on war trauma that are about to be released: Trauma and Its Wake: Expanding the Circle of Healing, and Healing War Trauma: A Handbook of Creative Approaches.
COL Platoni has been a practicing clinical psychologist for 30 years and is a graduate of the Army's Command and General Staff College. She is presently serving as the chief psychologist for the Army Reserve (Army Reserve Psychology Consultant) and is assigned to the 1493rd Combat Stress Control group based in North Carolina. She lives with her husband John in Ohio.
(SGT) Andrew Brandi, Vietnam-Era US Marine
SGT Andy Brandi is the author of The Warrior's Guide to Insanity and The Warrior's Guide to Worlds at War, endorsed and purchased by the US Army and the Veterans Administration, with more than 12,000 copies in print.
In addition to speaking to over 6,000 OEF/OIF combat troops across the country, he has been invited to speak at the American Medical Surgeons of the United States (AMSUS) National Conference, the Warriors Resilience National Conference, and the Suicide Prevention National Conference. He has been a subject matter expert on combat trauma for several media outlets, and appeared on TV and radio many times.
But it is his work with the troops that he finds most meaningful and for which he is the most grateful. SGT Brandi joined the US Marine Corps at the age of 17 and served for three years. His experiences in Vietnam left him with a special kind of heartbreak--one which he hopes to prevent thousands of younger troops from having to bear.
It took him 18 years and five colleges, but he proudly completed his Bachelors Degree at Ohio State University in 1997. He is the recent recipient of a large grant from the WalMart Foundation, funding 100,000 books to be given to Troops each year over the next 3 years.
In addition to the many programs he supports and the many projects he consults on, he runs the Olde Windmill Farm Trail Animal Sanctuary for abused and abandoned farm animals outside of Cerrillos, NM, with his dear friend and ex-wife, Karin.