A lengthy and in-depth piece by the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Phil Bronstein — published in Esquire — details the story of the Navy SEAL who says he was the man who shot and killed Osama bin Laden. Speaking about the raid, he also shares his story about the rough transition into civilian life.
“The man who shot and killed Osama bin Laden sat in a wicker chair in my backyard, wondering how he was going to feed his wife and kids or pay for their medical care,” the piece, entitled” The Man Who Killed Osama Bin Laden… Is Screwed,” opens — a glimpse into the picture painted throughout the article, in which he is referred to, simply, as the Shooter.
Despite his “deeply impressive” past, Bronstein writes that the Shooter’s future remains uncertain. “He’s taken monumental risks,” his father says. “But he’s unable to reap any reward.”
“No one who fights for this country overseas should ever have to fight for a job,” Barack Obama said last Veterans’ Day, “or a roof over their head, or the care that they have earned when they come home.”
But the Shooter will discover soon enough that when he leaves after sixteen years in the Navy, his body filled with scar tissue, arthritis, tendonitis, eye damage, and blown disks, 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.
In fact, he’s trained his children on how to hide in their bathtub, and his wife “is familiar enough with the shotgun on their armoire to use it.”
The piece further goes on to detail the Shooter’s (and his family’s) coping with the return to civilian life, receiving little government or military support.
He’s lost some vision, he can’t get his neck straight for any period of time. Right now, she’s just waiting to see what he creates for himself in this new life.
And she’s waiting to see how he replaces even the $60,000 a year he was making (with special pay bonuses for different activities). Or how they can afford private health insurance that covers spinal injections she needs for her own sports injuries.
“This is new to us, not having the team.”
And the Shooter doesn’t mince words when speaking about it:
“I left SEALs on Friday,” he said the next time I saw him. It was a little more than thirty-six months before the official retirement requirement of twenty years of service. “My health care for me and my family stopped at midnight Friday night. I asked if there was some transition from my Tricare to Blue Cross Blue Shield. They said no. You’re out of the service, your coverage is over. Thanks for your sixteen years. Go fuck yourself.”
Anyone who leaves early also gets no pension, so he is without income. Even if he had stayed in for the full twenty, his pension would have been half his base pay: $2,197 a month. The same as a member of the Navy choir.
The Shooter also details some of his thought processes and background surrounding the actual raid: “And I remember as I watched him breathe out the last part of air, I thought: Is this the best thing I’ve ever done, or the worst thing I’ve ever done?”
Bronstein spoke about the article during a Today appearance on Monday — offering some insight into the background, as well as how he came to believe the Shooter indeed the one who shot bin Laden.
The segment below, via NBC:
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