Sevierville family struggles to find care for WWII veteran

Frank Knopp served in the US Navy during World War II. He was a gunner inside a PBY aircraft.
Frank Knopp served in the US Navy during World War II. He was a gunner inside a PBY aircraft.

SEVIERVILLE (WATE) – The family of a World War II veteran is struggling trying to find him the care he needs. The daughter of Frank Knopp, 92, says she can’t get help for her father who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, flashbacks and hallucinations.

Knopp’s daughter says she came to WATE 6 On Your Side after seeing her mother deeply stressed and saddened after years of trying to get help for her husband. The family says they feel like they are getting the runaround and can’t understand why care isn’t easier to get for veterans.

Frank Knopp served in the US Navy during World War II. He was a gunner inside a PBY aircraft.

“There’s a gunner on each wing and one in the tail. Our goal is to shoot down these planes,” said Knopp.

Knopp’s wife of 57 years is trying to get him the care he needs with no success. Knopp’s daughter, Julie Starr, say Knopp has Alzheimer’s and his health has been getting worse.

“A week ago he started hallucinating and seeing aircraft come in, tugboats. He heard people yell for help and he couldn’t do anything about it,” said Starr.

Starr says he went to the hospital and is now in a nursing home, but he can only stay 21 days. After that, his wife will have to pay half of her income and they aren’t equipped at home to care for him.

“What we find is that the VA isn’t offering as much as we thought would be available through the VA,” said Starr.

Jesse Inman, the Sevier County veterans’ service officer, says a non-service connected claim has been filed with the VA, but it normally takes a year for a claim to be processed.

“They look at your service. You have war time service to qualify. Of course he does. Then it comes down to money what they make, income, what their medical expenses are. It breaks my heart. I do empathize with him,” said Inman.

“We have our veterans and they don’t get care. Here’s a 92 year old man who fought for his country and we can’t find any help for him to care for him, that’s so sad,” said Starr.

Knopp’s wife hopes the financial assistance is offered to help her husband because she can’t pay her bills on only half her income.

Inman says he has requested that the VA expedite processing of the claim. Even if the claim is processed by the VA sooner than a year, Inman emphasizes, there’s no guarantee Knopp will qualify for the assistance.

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