Utica, N.Y. - Veterans Outreach Center Executive Director Vincent Scalise says don't blame PTSD for Wednesday night's shooting at a country music bar in California even though the alleged shooter was a former U.S. Marine who suffered from PTSD.
Scalise says those with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) shy away from violence rather that commit violence, "I don’t think that was the root cause for the him going on a rampage. I honestly believe it’s mental illness, and I can’t see anybody that would argue with the fact that a sane person does not go in and commit a mass shooting whether you have PTSD or not." He says he believes from what he's read that the shooter suffered from mental illness and may have never got the help he needed.
Scalise is a veteran himself serving over in both Iraq and Afghanistan and he admits he too suffered from PTSD upon his return from combat missions, "It's a very heightened sense of awareness. I remember when I first got back from Iraq my father and I are going up N. Genesee St. and a bag fell off the back of a garbage truck and my father was driving and I grabbed the wheel from him because, you did it for so long, that was an automatic response. It might be an IED, so you have that light heightened level of awareness. You tend to get easily shaken and rattled, but all wounds heal in time."
Scalise says he saw a counselor to help cope with his PTSD "I do feel better after it, absolutely and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I encourage anyone to go do it, and I want people to know that we’re here and we will get you that counseling and it will be free, any kind of help you need, just come down and ask, we’re here for you."
Scalise says there are case workers at the Veterans Outreach Center and if counselors are needed, they are available by appointment. He says those counselors will come from the VA in Syracuse to meet with veterans here in Utica, and the sessions are absolutely free.