The Navy SEAL Who Shot Bin Laden Is Eligible For Health Care
Readers were outraged yesterday when a profile of the Navy SEAL who killed Osama Bin Laden was published in Esquire, saying in the title that the man “is Screwed.” Author Phil Bronstein went on to say that the retiring special forces member, referred to only as The Shooter, will get no pension and no healthcare.
The serviceman is retiring after 16 years in the Navy, four shy of receiving benefits.
But Stars & Stripes, the official newspaper of the US Armed Forces, countered that this is not only untrue, but that Bronstein knew it. Megan McCloskey writes:
Like every combat veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the former SEAL, who is identified in the story only as “the Shooter”, is automatically eligible for five years of free healthcare through the Department of Veterans Affairs.[...]
“No one ever told him that this is available,” Bronstein said.
He said there wasn’t space in the article to explain that the former SEAL’s lack of healthcare was driven by an ignorance of the benefits to which he is entitled.
A veterans advocate quoted in the article added that such false claims can harm other veterans:
“Misinformation like this doesn’t help veterans,” he said. “When one veteran hears in a high-profile story that another veteran was denied care, it makes him or her less likely to enroll in the VA system.”
The S&S article also does acknowledge that any servicemember who retires before a certain point loses pension and benefits. Perhaps the framers of military health care forgot to include an exception for those who blow out the brains of the leader of Al-Qaeda?
Still, many aspects of the Esquire article are a fascinating read. Special forces veterans are facing daunting challenges when re-entering civilian life, and The Shooter has the added challenge of his own possible security risks- he has trained his children and wife to defend themselves and flee should a retaliatory attack ever occur.
What do you think? Should more be done to help vets like The Shooter?