Plight of the Shooter Who Killed Osama bin Laden

You can expect a lot of attention due to this Esquire piece titled “The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden… Is Screwed. Even though it’s right now being overshadowed by the Pope’s resignation, this is a story with “legs,” drama — and one that arouses outrage. Newser’s Kate Seasons gives the best summary and here’s part of it:

Phil Bronstein, the executive chair of CIR [Center for Investigative Journalism], spent a year talking to the anonymous shooter (referred to as “the Shooter”), ultimately producing a nearly 15,000-word piece titled, “The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden … Is Screwed.” The headline encapsulates the two-fold nature of the piece: recounting the “most definitive account” (verified by a number of sources, including other SEALS) “of those crucial few seconds” in which the Shooter put three bullets into bin Laden’s head; and tackling this incongruity: “that a man with hundreds of successful war missions, one of the most decorated combat veterans of our age, who capped his [16-year] career by terminating bin Laden, has no landing pad in civilian life.”

Bronstein catalogs the absent opportunities, like the $25 million bounty on bin Laden’s head that won’t go to the team and the movies and books from which it won’t benefit; and the single offer from SEAL command that he could drive a beer truck in Milwaukee under a new identity. And while a private security job might be a valid route, “many of these guys, including the Shooter, do not want to carry a gun ever again for professional use.”

Bronstein also catalogs what the Shooter lacks: pension (he left service 36 months short of the necessary 20 years), healthcare (though he battles arthritis, eye damage, tendonitis, and blown disks), protection for his family (from a retaliatory attack), disability benefits (he’s waiting), a healthy marriage (he and his wife have split, under the pressure of a job that took him away as many as 300 days a year), and communication from the VA (computer-generated form letters aside).

Go to the original link and read the entire piece including Brownstein’s conclusion on the implications (some issues are similar to what other veterans face).

And, you, do get a sense that in the end, for all the verbiage, he walks away with little institutional gratitude shown in terms of the issues he now faces in the health and personal realms.

11 Comments

  1. Another hero either killed or being killed by the war after they honorably and valiantly served our country.

    It is so tragic that it is almost unbelievable.

  2. I had to look up Phil Bronstein and he seems to be legit. This story, or the excerpt of a reviewer, sounded too strange to possibly be true. I had no idea the SEALs had such decrepit people on active duty, let alone on this particular mission. Still find it hard to believe. Mr. Bronstein is legit, is he sure about this guy?

  3. I hope there is some kind of a well financed support group for these people who have given and risked way above the normal wages of war. I know they are volunteers for ultra risky work, but that doesn’t mean we should treat them as average, which support wise ain’t that great, and should be a primary area for a DOD to bring to the front burner.

  4. dd

    Absolutely correct.

  5. Can the military really offer this guy more than they offer everybody else in the military? Initially I don’t think that would be right, but these high level spec-op guys take far more punishment and face far more danger than almost everybody else in the military. Why can’t they let them retire with full retirement benefits earlier than the twenty year requirement? Clearly the guy is worn out leaving the military just 4 years before he gets full benefits.

    If it were up to me I’d give him a villa with a thousand acres in Hawaii and all the amenities including beautiful trained masseuses to massage his worn out body and wait on his every need. Anything less seems unappreciative.

  6. Just to get some facts out. He retired 4 years before the 20 year requirement for benefits. People are writing that he will or has applied for disability, PTSD.

    I kind of see these tier 1 guys like first class fliers. They should get double miles. This guy should have received a OBL bonus and received full benefits.

  7. Not knowing all the facts, this comment is not intended to take anything away from the bravery of the Navy SEAL nor from his claims of being treated so shabbily by the military.

    However, an article in the Stars and Stripes, quoting the “Ruptured Duck,” “ a blog for veterans and those who will be,” has this to say about Esquire magazine’s claim that “…here is what he gets from his employer and a grateful nation: Nothing. No pension, no health care, and no protection for himself or his family.”

    Except the claim about health care is wrong. And no servicemember who does less than 20 years gets a pension, unless he has to medically retire.

    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.

    And the Stripes adds that the writer of the story stands by it because the SEAL didn’t know the VA benefits existed.

    “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.

    “That’s a different story,” Bronstein said in a phone interview with Stars and Stripes about what he omitted from the article.

    The Center for Investigating Reporting posted a story on its website today that goes into greater detail about the SEAL’s interactions with the VA, including that he has a disability claim that is stuck in the backlog.

    Read more here

  8. Thank you Dorian. I was just going to ask why he was not getting medical benefits through the VA. Even if he was not specifically told he gets VA benefits, wouldn’t he be proactive and find out himself if he is eligible?

  9. Of course this is a specific case, and my comment referred to the group as a whole that gives above and beyond and I hoped there was a non-governmental, financially strong support group, just as they were our support group, for special ops personnel from all the services overt and covert.

  10. Even if he was not specifically told he gets VA benefits, wouldn’t he be proactive and find out himself if he is eligible?

    This is not nearly as simple and straight-forward as it seems. Someone who is in a great deal of pain and who has been concentrating on hunting bad guys for 16 years might not realize that the first 8 people (for example) he contacted about this just didn’t know what they were talking about and that all these benefits are just sitting there waiting for him to be pro-active. An example: My little sister was injured very badly at work in a very strange way (rare chemical exposure/burn), and it has taken a year of begging for medical appointments, begging for a treatment plan, daily calls to worker’s comp, pleading with her own lawyers for help, and 3 misdiagnoses by different doctors before she finally (a couple weeks ago actually) started getting answers that made sense in context of her symptoms and the literature on exposure to these chemicals. She’d be told to wait for calls that never came, then get blamed for not following up sooner. She’d be told to wait for her test results and reports that were never written up, then get scolded for not reminding them when she needed the info. Her meds would be denied by worker’s comp without explanation. She’d be told that she just had to pay the $600 now for whatever medical procedure but she’d be reimbursed later — $600 she wouldn’t have had even if worker’s comp paid her the full $13 wage she had been making prior to her injury. She went to a slew of different types of court-recommended doctors that had literally zero experience with what she was exposed to. She had numerous doctors grill her using medical terms she’d never heard while trying to catch her in “lies” — as if she should have medical expertise on her condition. She had to go through a large number of extremely invasive, highly painful tests that weren’t even indicated by the chemical she was exposed to. One of these came out as a false positive, meaning she mistakenly got diagnosed with nerve damage, and spent 4 months on a highly addictive drug that meant she couldn’t drive or excerize and basically kept her sleeping 18 hours a day.

    Anyway, the point of all that is that navegation of the medical industrial complex is extremely difficult and frustrating even under the best of conditions. I can only imagine that someone trying to do so through the VA, not even knowing he has the benefits, while dealing with extreme pain and PTSD to boot, might have been beyond his abilities. I don’t think it’s beyond the abilities of the system to at least let him know what is covered through the VA after such an ordeal as this man went through.

  11. roro – thank you for your response. I’m not a vet, so I won’t comment further on what a vet should or should not know about the VA. Sad about your sister. It’s difficult having a work related injury, seeing company doctors, and then having the comp carrier working agaist you. Hopefully, she is on the road to recovery.

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