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The U.S. Navy SEAL who shot and killed Osama bin Laden is speaking out for the first time since the May 1, 2011, raid on the al-Qaida leader's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
In an interview with Esquire, the former SEAL—identified as "The Shooter" due to what the magazine described as "safety" reasons—said he's been largely abandoned by the U.S. government since leaving the military last fall.
He told Esquire he decided to speak out to both correct the record of the bin Laden mission and to put a spotlight on how some of the U.S. military's highly trained and accomplished soldiers are treated by the government once they return to civilian life.
Despite killing the world's most-wanted terrorist, he said, he was not given a pension, health care or protection for himself or his family.
"[SEAL command] told me they could get me a job driving a beer truck in Milwaukee," he told Esquire.
Plus, he said, "my health care for me and my family stopped. 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 16 years. Go f--- yourself."
The problem seems to be that "The Shooter" left the military well before the 20-year requirement for retirement benefits.
According to the magazine, the government provides 180 days of transitional health care benefits, but the Shooter was ineligible because he did not agree to remain on active duty in a support role or become a "reservist." Instead, the magazine noted, he will "have to wait at least eight months to have his disability claims adjudicated."
The SEAL also gave his account of the historic raid, including the moment he pulled the trigger and shot bin Laden.
“In that second, I shot him, two times in the forehead," he told Esquire. "Bap! Bap! The second time as he’s going down. He crumpled onto the floor in front of his bed. He was dead. I watched him take his last breaths. 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?
"I'm not religious," he added. "But I always felt I was put on the earth to do something specific. After that mission, I knew what it was."
He also recalled watching CNN's coverage of the first anniversary of bin Laden's death.
"They were saying, 'So now we're taking viewer e-mails. Do you remember where you were when you found out Osama bin Laden was dead?' And I was thinking: Of course I remember. I was in his bedroom looking down at his body."
In September 2012, fellow former SEAL Team 6 member Matt Bissonnette published a controversial book, "No Easy Day," under a pen name about the raid, drawing the ire of both his fellow SEALs and the Pentagon.
A spokeswoman for Esquire told Yahoo News that the magazine did not pay the SEAL for the interview.
I am very grateful to this man for his service and having killed OBL. However, I am not sure what he expects. Why didn't he wait the four years to retire? He must have known that retirement is after 20 years. The military retirement rules are generous in compensation for other shit. However, you at least need to put in 20 years to get the benefits.
However, there is a big difference in the toll that being a SEAL takes on an individual. It's not like he was a quartermaster in a rear area. I have always thought that Deltas, Rangers and SEALS deserve an accelerated timetable, given the risk that they put themselves in on a regular basis.
Even in times of peace, those guys are at war.
I'm going to give this guy the benefit of the doubt in almost all cases. He more than proved his commitment to his job.
The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen - Dennis Prager
Perhaps they do deserve an accelerated timetable, but they currently do not have one. I don't think it's any secret how the retirement schedule and the accompanying benefits work. To leave before retirement and then publicly complain about not receiving retirement benefits seems a bit disingenuous to me.
Why leave early, particularly when he does not appear to have another job lined up? I would think if he no longer wanted to be a SEAL he could have returned to regular duty.
My view exactly. Special forces probably deserve special treatment as deet mentioned, but it does not exist and he must have known that. Assuming he understood the rules, I do not know what he expects.
I wonder if a pension will kick in when he turns 62? Like with congressmen.
"...an economy hampered by restrictive tax rates will never produce enough jobs or enough profits" JFK
No, but he deserves it more than Congressmen.
you work hard, you get what you deserve...don't stand there with your hand out
That was kinda my point. Congressmen get a pension at 62 if they have 20 years in, anytime once they get 25 in and at 65 with as little as 5 years in. And they get Full pension.
Not to diminish what our congressmen do. As I do believe they serve our country. But I would think that a Seal team member might have put more at risk and deserve at least as much as the congressmen get.
Difference is - SEALS don't get to vote for their own pensions, they just make it possible for Congressmen to line their own pockets.
From the article posted by Wake:
"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."
This author causes a shitstorm by writing the claim that this guy could not get benefits and was told to f**k off. It turns out this guy just failed to ask if he could get the benefit and then was complaining that he did not have it. The author knew this all along. He apparently thought that it was more sensational to write about a wronged hero than simply that a hero made a mistake. So, he deceives everyone with this nonsense. Sounds like he should work for Fox.
I finally found the original thread here (I now wish I hadn't started a new thread). The above link underscores what I wrote in my original post. The guy was encouraged to stay in until retirement.
Another thing we can agree on.
Cry Havoc; and let slip the dogs of war!
This is being looked at. In fact, the DoD has proposed step down retirements. The problem is that the DoD does not control this, it's Congress. Today, we tell people, thank you very much for your service if they don't serve their 20 years AFS. In some cases, people cannot continue to meet the military medical readiness standards due to poor health or injuries. If they are at 18 years, we will keep them on for an additional two so that they can get their 20 years.
I know the DoD does not like the current retirement plan because it either ends up costing more since people stay in longer and get more retirement, or it keeps bad or disgruntled servicemembers in longer.
I do not know what was proposed by the DoD, but if the proposals were good, I wish Congress would listen.
Honestly, I think the DoD has tried to be much more fiscally responsible than our federal government would let them be. We asked for more cuts in the Active Duty force and were not allowed to make the cuts we needed.
DoD also has proposed changes to the retirement plan...not sure I agree or disagree with them, because I think there are many questions to answer, but they wanted to push receiving your retirement pay back to age 55 instead of the day you retire.
Once again, another stellar example of federal bureaucracy in action!
Join the fight for YOUR liberty!
It has driven me crazy when the DoD says that it does not need something, but Congress insists on spending on it. Pork at its worst. I'd rather see the money saved or spent on something more worthwhile (e.g. officers visiting the troops under their command).
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