UTICA, NY-- Veterans in the Greater Utica Area are remembering an American war hero and political legend, Senator John McCain.
"You could count on him to stand on for veterans issues," said Vincent Scalise, a veteran who served in Iraqi and Afghanistan. "You could count on him to stand for not just nilly, willy sending troops anywhere to fight."
Scalise is also the founder and executive director of CNY Veteran's Outreach Center. The center provides services to homeless and at-risk veterans in Oneida, Herkimer Madison Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. The center serves roughly 250 veterans and their families each month.
For nearly six years McCain was held and tortured as a prisoner of war, his injuries so severe he could never again raise his arms above his head. The long-serving United States Senator, and presidential candidate – died Saturday following a lengthy battle with brain cancer.
Vietnam veteran and Marine, Willie Wilson, of Utica, knows what it's like to deal with a life-altering injury. Wilson was left legally blind after an enemy attack while serving in Vietnam.
"He went through the pain and overcame it," Wilson said. "He had a lot of strength because he never gave up on us, I respect him for serving."
Scalise said he always thought highly of the late senator and has been a longtime supporter. He even volunteered during the Republican's 2008 presidential campaign.
"People in society today could learn from him, that everybody should serve," Scalise said. "It doesn't have to be in the military, it doesn't have to be in politics, but serve somehow, serve your community. I think we need to get back into that."