PTSD expert, veterans weigh in on Yountville tragedy

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Many veterans are reacting to the tragedy in Yountville because the gunman was a veteran and suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. They are cautioning people to jump to conclusions about the troubled man. (KGO-TV)

Many veterans are reacting to the tragedy in Yountville because the gunman was a veteran and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. They are cautioning people not to jump to conclusions about the troubled man.

Wherever Jeff Wilson goes, his trusty yellow lab Sayla is by his side. She works as his service dog helping him with PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder.

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"She helps me tremendously through life and gives me so many tools to alleviate any issues before they come up," said Wilson.

Wilson served in the army in Iraq. His heart fell when he heard veteran Albert Wong, who also suffered from the disorder, lashed out last Friday shooting three women who worked at the veterans facility where he was a former client. Smith says PTSD should not be blamed for the shooting.

"If somebody gets mad and has PTSD, they flare up and get mad and it's over and you're fine. You move past it. You don't sit for two weeks and plan," said Wilson. Wong had left the Pathway Home Veterans program two weeks ago.

Santa Clara University Professor Tom Plante says many folks who have PTSD also suffer from other mental illness.

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"Was it the PTSD that was a contributing factor, or was it something else. Who knows? Was it schizophrenia, was it bipolar? There's a variety of things that it could be," said Plante.

Plante notes there are usually warning signs that lead up to someone acting out, but behavior can't always be predicted.

"If people act in an odd way, if people act in an uncomfortable way, a threatening way, an aggressive way, if they're very isolative, they have poor social relations with others these are all signs that you want to at least pay attention," said Plante. "We have to try to do our best we can to be thoughtful with one another, to be a little gentle with one another. When people are experiencing symptoms that this doesn't like right...approach them. Ask, 'Are you doing okay? You seem a little tense, a little upset, is there something I can do to be helpful to you.'"

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Wilson now helps other veterans suffering from PTSD in hopes of helping them lead productive lives.

He works at Operation Freedom Paws which matches veterans with service dogs like Selah.

Click here for more information on symptoms of PTSD.

Click here for more stories, photos, and video on PTSD.
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societyveteranveteransgun violencegun controlPTSDmental healthdeadly shootingSanta Clara
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