Update: 18:00: Stars & Stripes has taken exception to the Esquire article. As the commenter on this post said, every combat veteran is eligible for five years of free healthcare through the VA and by omitting that, the Esquire article is presenting misinformation.
From the Stars & Stripes article:
…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.
But the story doesn’t mention that.
The writer, Phil Bronstein, who heads up the Center for Investigative Reporting, stands by the story. He said the assertion that the government gave the SEAL “nothing” in terms of health care is both fair and accurate, 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.
Esquire magazine has not yet responded to a request for comment…
Mr. Bronstein said that the SEAL told him:
“I left SEALs on Friday,” the unnamed SEAL told author Phil Bronstein last September. “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,” the SEAL told Bronstein, executive chairman of the Center for Investigative Reporting. “You’re out of the service, your coverage is over. Thanks for your sixteen years. Go f— yourself.”
That can’t be accurate.
In the article Mr. Bronstein writes that after 16 years, the Navy SEAL has “Nothing. No pension, no health care, and no protection for himself or his family.” Obviously, the SEAL had to know that he would have to serve 20 years to receive a pension. Is it disingenuous to omit that fact?
Meanwhile the story is getting widespread attention and has been discussed by Senators McCain and Sanders.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. said he would hold hearings next month on what he called “a broken claims system.”
“It is simply not acceptable for any veteran to wait many months or years for the benefits that they are entitled to receive,” Sanders, chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said in a statement.
Update: Noon: I had reservations about this story and have more now. Please check the comments section for opinions about this story.
Original Story: 2/12/13: This is wrong if the information provided in the Esquire article is accurate.
The Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden left before his 20 years were up and when his benefits would kick him. He didn’t know he had other options and he couldn’t do the job any longer.
He thought he was going to die the night of the raid and he did it anyway. The raid on the bin Laden compound was a suicide mission. The courage of these men is unrecognized.
He made only about $60,000 a year (these men are the best of the best) and he left the service three years before his 20 year term was up. He is without health insurance, or a pension, he is unemployed and his wife left him.
Most careers have a vested pension to draw on after 5 or 10 years.
This SEAL has a disability claim in with the VA which has been stalled for months – he has a lot of injuries. He also lives in fear of retaliation by al Qaeda.
He conducted a very special mission and deserves to be treated better. He was paid only $60,000 there-abouts and he put in 16 years for which he received nothing. Our military should be treated far better, particularly these men who serve in wartime and are deployed again and again. Fix it!
Read the story by by Phil Bronstein at Esquire