Bin Laden's shooter gets no pension or protection

The former Navy SEAL is having problems securing enough health care as well, according to a magazine report.

By Jonathan Berr Feb 12, 2013 9:57AM
Credit: MILpictures by Tom Weber
Caption: Combat ready special operation forces soldierThe Navy SEAL who shot and killed Osama bin Laden is having a tough time adjusting to civilian life. He left the military after 16 years of service and now has no pension, no protection for his family, a crumbling marriage and inadequate health care.

In fact, he seems more scared now than he was when he eliminated the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks.

According to a heart-wrenching story in Esquire, the shooter -- whose identity is withheld -- suffers from a variety of physical and psychological ailments from his career in the Navy. They include blown disks, arthritis, tendinitis, eye damage and scar tissue.

But perhaps more painful than the physical degradation is his feeling that the federal government abandoned him after his heroic act.

The man referred to in the magazine as "the Shooter" wanted out of the military after killing bin Laden. And so he left, with more than three years to go before meeting the official retirement requirement of 20 years of service, writes Phil Bronstein, former editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. Because the shooter didn't meet the 20-year requirement, he did not get a pension or extended health care.

Esquire reported that the government would have provided another 180 days of health care if the shooter agreed to remain on active duty or become a reservist. Instead he chose private insurance for $486 a month.

He would be an easy al-Qaida target if his name and photograph were made known, and he can't afford to let his guard down. The member of the Navy's SEAL Team 6 has trained his children to hide in the bathroom at the first sign of trouble. He keeps a hidden gun that his wife knows how to use (though they are separated, they live together to save money). The family also keeps a set of bags packed in case they need to run for their lives.

This is no way for anyone to live, let alone someone who eliminated the biggest national security threat to the United States since Adolf Hitler. His uncle tried to help him capitalize on his notoriety by trying to get him work with Electronic Arts (EA), Bronstein wrote. The game maker, however, already has dozens of military consultants.

The government would not comment on Bronstein's story, but Stars and Stripes reported that the shooter is automatically eligible for five years of free health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Every veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan is offered the same service. In an interview with Stars and Stripes, Bronstein said the shooter didn't know the benefits were available.

If true, Bronstein's story is a damning one. "Is this how America treats its heroes?" he wrote. "The ones President Obama called 'the best of the best'? The ones Vice President Biden called 'the finest warriors in the history of the world'?"

--Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

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Apr 28, 2013 9:26AM
Obama should take the REWARD that was promised for helping capturing the Osama bin Laden and DISTRIBUTE to the Navy seals that took him out. It was 5 millions in reward as I recall.  Where is that money??
Mar 16, 2013 2:16AM
Seems to me like the guy is an awfull good soldier. He may need some help in the private secture. We all know someone like this guy. Starts out to make a carrier out of the Armed Service and then something happens and they are out on their ear. With Obama as pres. I don't see him being offered any help from the government. But I am very sure that someone in the private secture would be only to willing to give this guy a personal body gaurd job.
Feb 17, 2013 6:07PM

The writer should have verified this story before he posted it. All veterans have the option to get care at the VA unless they have a dishonorable. We also have access to marital counsleing if he needs that. He decided to pay for his and that is his decision.


He also should have had a medical board review befoe he left so he could file a compensation claim with the VA once he got out. Apparently he didnt pay attention to the options available.


The military branches and the VA are two separate entities and he needs to file a compensation claim with hardship if the story is true. Getting out without knowing all options is insane in this economy.


Even civilians know how to prepare for a future when they retire, quit, get laid off or fired. Wearing a uniform does not absolve us of that responsibility.



Feb 16, 2013 8:50PM
THis guy had PLENTY of other options. If he didn't want to deploy, there are plenty of Administrative positions/instructors positions in the SEAL teams that he could have transferred into WITHOUT leaving the service. I'm retired military and I can tell you, he KNEW exactly what would happen if he ETS'd early. He doesn't get a whole lot of sympathy from me. You get at LEAST 1 year of transition counseling unless you're chaptered out for medical or disciplinary reasons, so he had no excuse.
Feb 16, 2013 7:17PM
Yeah, well, keep fighting invisible enemies so the rich can make a profit.  You're making a difference, right?  The fact that the difference may be negative is ok, right?
Feb 16, 2013 5:38PM
P.T.S.D can be proved by a brain scan. and it is a disorder of the brain, and you are not knowing and willing @ that point and is a disability that comes from war. the fact opted out has  to do with his disability, if he has it. he as the right to disability as a defender of this nation      
Feb 16, 2013 5:23PM
I have heard so many people talk about the rules in regards to this man and also his actions the fact is it against the rules for him and whom ever ordered him to shoot it is unjust to kill a defendant. regardless of the crime. and is an abridgement of the laws of the US. within the full-body of the law. I now go tile18 sec. 2384 U.S.C.A.  this is what binds the officers of the military to defend the law and the people not the state as actors of the state can be the enemy of the people and the law . to abridge the law makes you the enemy of the nation and the people  did this actor for the state abridge the law did the officers above him abridge the law. his commander also use weapons on US citizens of the US. without a trial  this is against the law as stated in vol.18 sec. 2384 U.S.C.A. the Supreme Court    of the USA . ruled that you cant break the law to up hold it this is a fact of law. a rule oh all marines are bound for life to this law by oath            
Feb 16, 2013 1:43PM
What a ridiculously slanted article
Feb 16, 2013 1:26PM
Wow.  I can't believe the comments.  No, actually I can. 
So this is how the brothers and sisters in the military take care of each other when the **** hits the fan.  Rules are great when they operate in one's favor, huh?  It's great to hear how no one is bothering to think about *why* he made to decision to leave early.  Like he did it on a damned whim.  No one's considering  "Hmm, maybe something else was going on and the military was screwing him out of PTSD or other medical  treatment" (naaah, they'd never do THAT), stonewalling him with mountains of red tape, or that he reached his own breaking point and just couldn't DO it anymore.  Naaaah, if he went through a world of hell for that long, what's a few more years?  Break him down so he's drooling, muttering, and homeless.  He's a Seal (well, *was*), he can handle anything and everything.    *Maybe* he was thinking (just as erroneously) he could still take care of himself by leaving early.   But no, rules are rules, and no investigating or exceptions will be made. 
I'm betting you're all "good, God-fearing Christians" too, doing exactly what Jesus would do in this situation.  I don't believe in an Invisible Man In the Sky.  If there WAS one, He'd still be handling this better.  
Pathetic excuses for primates with no ability to critically think, taking the easy way out by parroting "Welp, them there are dah Rules, so suck it."  JUST what the military wants.  Drones not only fly, they walk and talk too.

Feb 16, 2013 12:43PM
Official sources have TOLD US that there is NOTHING connecting Osama to the 9/11 attacks, this is all pointless ****. Everybody in the American military should quit that would fix all your country's stupid problems!
Feb 16, 2013 12:15PM
My father served 8 years before dropping out to go to college and become a minister.  There were times when he regretted not serving 20.  If he had stayed in, that could have put him in Vietnam.
Feb 15, 2013 1:53AM
I find a lot of the comments about the individual leaving the service and having made a concious decision to do so to be pretty much without merit or insight to reality. Having spent over 42 years in both the Army and the Navy I can say most do not have a clue as to the PTSD issues involved in a service member with a background such as this, nor do they have a clue as to the peer pressure to suck it up no matter what that still exists in elite fighting units. My point being, it is highly likely that the service member made a bad decision involving his career while unduly influenced by psycological issues that impacted his decision making abilities, to add to the question of his situation, without yet having read the article, I have to wonder why his maladies did not qualify him for a medical retirement, Is it not odd, that in the cumlative rating of disabilities, an individual can take his retirement physical from the Armed Forces to the VA and have them in essence add up to a 220% total of disabilities, but not be medically retired? Of course the government (at the VA) has a formula to downgrade many of those to the governments advantage on payout, but be that as it may our service men and women are being screwed over royally by the Medical Departments of the services, with one exception, those in the Medical Corps of the respective branches, they know how to work the system and work it well. The recent refusal by the Army to release it's findings to the Tacoma News Tribune on the investigation and recommendation of the PTSD mess at Madigan Army Medical Center is but the tip of the ice berg on the total and scandalous lack of quality care our service members are getting since the GWOT began. I and several other LNO's  for the returning Brigades could write a book on the incompetency and shear meaness of petty civil service workers towards the service members left in medical hold following their return from theater, as well as the bungeling of the Army Reserve Drill Instructor units that missmanaged the Reserve Component soldiers left in the oblivion of Medical Hold. Here is reality, the treatment of our troops is broken, not said out of spite, but from very recent and current observation. 
Feb 14, 2013 12:34AM
we should also pull the security from past elected officials.  we should also pull the family health care packages we are providing for their families.  let them get another job if they didn't steal enough while they were in office.
Feb 13, 2013 4:21PM
It may take the DVA an unreasonable amount of time to decide any veteran's claim.
To add insult to injury, the first VA claim decision has at least a 30% chance of being summarily denied, regardless of the merits. The DVA appeals process can take about five years, and there also is a significant error rate.

If the veteran has significant medical problems, in theory, the military is obligated to show them on a discharge physical. Unfortunately, the military is reluctant to "do the right thing" in cases like this.  Without this "proof", the DVA's claims process becomes more difficult.

The military and the DVA have extremely deficient processes that in practice, just don't work.


Feb 13, 2013 3:59PM


Get your self elected to Congress once in for 1 term you will have benefits for the rest of your life.

Feb 13, 2013 12:44PM
   The vast majority of comments on this topic of which the largest majority were from past members of the military retired or not shows that the understanding of the contract with the armed services REQUIRES that one serve 20 years before long term benefits are granted.  Those that don't understand this very simple REQUIREMENT should probably continue to consume their "pringles" and agree with the whiner that violated Rule 1 as mentioned previously.  Nough said! 
Feb 13, 2013 12:21PM
Oh come on, everyone knows that you need to do 20 years to get benefits for life! especially a 16 year veteran. My father got out after 16 years also, and he had a wife and 3 kids! and you know what he did? he got a job, in a bad economy and never looked back! Stop whining and take it like a Seal!! Oh yeah and thank you sir for the 2 bullets.
Feb 13, 2013 11:01AM
It was a Military Team effort ! No reason to retire early ! Millions of people do a great job every day of their lives, Everyone in the military is a hero!!!  They joined to serve their country. Get back in and serve your twenty years. We all have our aches and pains.
Feb 13, 2013 9:58AM
Why is this still being discussed. He is eligible for VA assistance. It came out yesterday that he just didnt know that.
Feb 13, 2013 9:23AM
what ever happened to not running a story until all facts were checked?  I long for the journalism standards of the past. This story is half fact and half hype.
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