Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Grover Cleveland Chapman WWII vet commits suicide with VA denial letter in hand

Vet was making statement about medical benefits, daughter says
Greenville News - Greenville,SC,USA
89-year-old killed self outside clinic
By Paul Alongi • STAFF WRITER • May 5, 2008

Harriett Chapman's eyes filled with tears Sunday as she recalled one of the last conversations she had with her 89-year-old father before he fatally shot himself outside a Greenville veterans' clinic last month.

Grover Cleveland Chapman told his family, "No matter what I apply for at the VA, they turn me down," she recalled.

The next day, the World War II veteran took his own life outside the Veterans Outpatient Clinic at 3510 Augusta Road, said Greenville County Deputy Coroner Mike Ellis.

Harriett Chapman sees her father's April 24 death as his way of sending a message about the medical care offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

While staff at the clinic treated him well, he'd recently lost two battles in a continuous struggle to claim medical benefits, she said.

"He felt like the VA turned its back on him and a lot of other veterans," Harriett Chapman said.

Priscilla Creamer, a spokeswoman for the clinic, said a caseworker who met with Grover Cleveland Chapman two days before his death saw nothing that raised a red flag.

"We feel very badly for the family," Creamer said. "We'd be happy to talk with them further if there's anything we can do."

Harriett Chapman, the fifth of seven children, said her father was honorably discharged from the Army and Navy before returning to Greenville, where he worked as a machinist.

He learned in a phone call on the Wednesday before his death that he was going to have to travel to Columbia for medical tests, although he'd been hoping for a waiver that would've allowed him to get them done closer to home, Harriett Chapman said

More bad news came hours later when he received a letter saying he'd been denied "100 percent disability," she said. If he'd been approved, the Veterans Administration would have picked up more of his medical bills, she said.

Grover Cleveland Chapman had the letter with him when he shot himself, Harriett Chapman said.
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