Veteran dies after setting himself on fire at Georgia State Capitol

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Georgia State Capitol (Photo by Erik S. Lesser/Newsmakers/Getty Images)

ATLANTA — Retired airman John Watts, 58, died Monday of serious injuries after setting himself in fire at the Georgia State Capitol, according to WAGA-TV.

Watts loved his family and country, but did not always get loved back the way he deserved, his family said.

“He had really big heart,” Michelle Travers, the airman’s daughter, told WAGA-TV. “And he was not a danger to society. He just needed a lot of help.”

While Watt’s attack on himself came as a shock, Travers knew her father lived with mental health challenges.

Travers and her husband also said that Watts faced difficulty getting treatment from the Veterans Administration. He first tried in Maryland where he lived with his daughter and later when he moved to Atlanta where he was homeless.

“[We] were under the impression he was getting the help he needed,” Travers said to WAGA-TV. “Through text messaging and phone calls, I was under the impression that he was OK.”

According to WAGA-TV, Veterans Affairs responded by offering their condolences.

“The Atlanta VA Health Care System is deeply saddened by this tragic incident and our thoughts and prayers are with the Veteran and his family during this difficult time,” the statement read. “All VA health care facilities provide same-day primary and mental health care services for Veterans who need them and we remain deeply committed to addressing the needs of Veterans at risk and in distress.”

The VA encourages veterans in need of urgent help to visit a VA health care facility or contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.


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