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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Feb 12, 2013 10:58AM
Hmmm. I spent 26 years in the Navy. I know how tough it can be. Retirement required a minimum of 20 years active duty, for those in the ready reserve it is/was very similiar. So, 16 years, falls short. The article indicates, his leaving the Navy at 16 years was a decision the service member made. If so, he made that move KNOWING, what his options would be. I would never question his courage, his dedication to mission, his sacrifices ( we have all made them in one form or another ) however, with the VA, job placement services, his potential for employment in the security arena and a wealth of other support providers both private and government state and federal, I have a hard time with this. CPO-USN-Ret
Feb 12, 2013 10:51AM
You don't get a pension for killing someone no matter how famous the individual. If he has medical conditions associated with his years of service then its a VA matter.

This guy is looking for sympathy and getting it from those who don't understand the military. You put in 20 years for your pension and medical benefits. If you leave early then you forfeit your retirement just like any one else.

We all tend to forget this is an all volunteer military and becoming a Seal is sure as hell all volunteer. He made his bed, he sleeps in it.

Feb 12, 2013 10:56AM

he was stupid to not hang around for 3 more years or simply join the reserves.  OR at a minimum request a transfer to a desk job somewhere.


it's sad, but i also can't cry about stupid people making stupid decisions. 


he had opportunties that he blew

Feb 12, 2013 10:48AM
Here are the rules- - at least at the present time. You join the military and serve 20 years or more and you receive the ''benefits''; a retirement pension based on years served and medical insurance called Tri-Care! If ''you'' volunteer to leave the military without fulfilling ''that  contract'', even by one day, you get NOTHING ! Am I to assume that because this man shot Bid Laden, the rules do not apply to him? Perhaps we should put that up to a vote in front of all the brave men and women who risk their lives in the performance of there duties, ''everyday'' to keep us safe. The bottom line is- - he knew the rules, HE chose to separate from the military before fulfilling the ''CONTRACT'' and now he appears to be ''unhappy'' with the results of HIS actions. Sorry, he no doubt is a very brave man, but he is also a Whiner ! ! ! ! !
Feb 12, 2013 10:59AM
Think ahead and plan ahead for any kind of job change and/or retirement.  It would seem the military would have been the safest place to stay, and maybe pick up medical benefits and disability there.  Good luck and best wishes.  Thanks for your service.
Feb 12, 2013 11:01AM
While I am not advocating any special favors to this vet, he didnt stay 20 years, I am advocating all the VA assistance he is enttled to.
Feb 12, 2013 12:05PM
Having spent over 21 years on active duty, I can sympathize with this guy. There were many days along the way when  I felt like getting out. However, it was his choice to leave the Navy with 16 years and he knew all along that retirement doesn't kick in before 20. I feel for the guy, but one has to live with one's choices. If he has duty-related health issues, he should try for some level of disablity. He may be a hero, but that alone does not entitle him to "special" consideration when it comes to retirement benefits. Good luck, Shooter.
Feb 12, 2013 10:46AM

Get a job Bucko,...Like everybody else who plans ahead...25-30 years one place and then you will have some of the benefits you seek...The Marriage/divorce has nothing to do with us..

It might be you..??

And I'm sure you are getting some care from VA...?

You are not a Hero, you were a Shooter like the rest of us....The Hero's names are on Walls and Plaques...Sorry.

4 more years, but you bailed from duty....And caused your own problems.

You probably could have found something Stateside for that length of time. 

Feb 12, 2013 12:09PM

This guy is entitled no more or no less than the guy that killed any other combatant of war.


Feb 12, 2013 11:59AM
. "Is this how America treats its heroes?" he wrote. "The ones President 

Bubba don't go blaming the President, he has nothing to do with what the military is doing to you.You only had 3 years left. 
Feb 12, 2013 11:56AM
i know this sounds cruel but if he had given just 4 more years he would have been set for life he chose this route so suffers. He can still go to college for free if he hasn't gone. He could get a job but hey i know what he did was great and heroic but so was Ira Hayes if you don't know who he was it was him and 5 others that raised the flag on Iwo Jima and he was left to die a drunk. Sorry you reap what you sew.
Feb 12, 2013 12:00PM

Maybe someone can reinstate him to active reserve status or give him retirement benefits based on his military caused health problems, but it was stupid to leave the military before having all this arranged.

When are people going to be held responsible for their own actions?

Feb 12, 2013 11:53AM
The guy signed up to do a job and was paid to do the job.He should have work as a congressman after 17 years we would pay him for the rest of his life!!!
Feb 12, 2013 12:22PM
Feb 12, 2013 12:08PM
Feb 12, 2013 11:54AM
Jonathan, if you feel so badly for "shooter" perhaps  you and like minded individuals should take up a collection for his benefit?  That would truly be a patriotic thing to do.  Actually act without your government's permission. 
Feb 12, 2013 12:00PM
Join the Reserves!  4 more years, and you retire!  Sure, you might have to do one more deployment, but no more than that.  Get a regular job and do Reserve duty 1 weekend a month and 2 weeks a year and then you will have retirement and (hopefully from the civilian job) a 401K.  Otherwise, you are leaving money on the table.
Feb 12, 2013 12:03PM

Thank you sir, I wish you and your family the best.

Feb 12, 2013 12:01PM
What a dumb azz. Had every option to get his retirement in the reserves and blew it off.. Income for life and medical ... And now going public with the poor me's..... Are US Navy seals smart??? they tell us they are.... what happens if he goes crazy with his skills???????? can he get a gun?
Feb 12, 2013 12:15PM
Not sure what the mystery is.  The military has retirement guidelines just like many civilian businesses.  If I'm guessing right, retirement benefits in the military kick in after 20 years, regardless whether you're a slouch or a seal, that's the deal.  This is not like he was promised retirement and benefits after 10 years and now all of a sudden he has been blindsided.  The military is a job, maybe more dangerous at times than most, but a job.  Hell, my dad was in for 33 years, served in both Europe and the Pacific in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, so this has nothing to do with being anti-military.  He did it because that's what he wanted to do, no one forced him.  As with any job, know what you're getting into and what your benefits are, including when you're eligible.  If this guy will get his stuff together, he will come out of this OK, probably better than many.
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