Last Updated:November 18 @ 07:54 am

What's the REAL Story with the SEAL Who Shot Bin Laden?

By Bobby Eberle

Is it hype all in the name of trying to sell more magazines? Is it deliberate twisting of the facts to mislead the public? Or is it a simple misunderstanding? These are the questions that are popping up ever since Esquire Magazine published a story about the Navy SEAL who shot Osama bin Laden... claiming that the government has left him with "nothing."

First there is the Esquire interview. In it, writer Phil Bronstein talks with one of the members of SEAL Team 6, known as "the Shooter." This former Navy SEAL is the man who actually shot and killed bin Laden.

For the first time, the Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden tells his story — speaking not just about the raid and the three shots that changed history, but about the personal aftermath for himself and his family. And the startling failure of the United States government to help its most experienced and skilled warriors carry on with their lives.

Later in the article, Bronstein writes:

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.

Fox News has picked up the story and reports, "The hero frogman is bitter as he waits for disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to an exclusive story for Esquire by the Center for Investigative Reporting. After quitting just three years short of retirement, he has no health care or pension, he said."

“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.”

Here's Fox's video report:

The web site Stars and Stripes, has taken issue with the Esquire interview, especially the portion which implies that the government left "the Shooter" without any health care.

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.

So what's the real story? Has "the Shooter" really been left high and dry by the government, or is Bronstein being over-the-top with his descriptions?

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  1. jackflackettComment by jackflackett
    February 12, 2013 @ 1:15 pm

    So veteran’s hospitals are run by Obama’s Big Gummint Health Care Nazis, but are worthwhile and will take care of him and his family in a competent and acceptable manner? Who knew?

    And after the five years are up? Then what? Where does he get health care with his many hard won pre-existing conditions? He’ll have to rely on the “free-market” that he fought so hard to save.

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    • Recce1Comment by recce1
      February 12, 2013 @ 4:29 pm

      Like the writer in Esquire you’ve little understanding of the facts. Any military person who leaves the service before they get to 20 years of service is no longer covered by the military TriCare system nor are they entitled to a pension UNLESS they retire on medical disability retirement. Even then, his family doesn’t receive military healthcare. That’s the way it’s always been for all service people for the last half century at least. Isn’t that clear enough?

      However, as a veteran he can go to the VA, which by the way doesn’t belong to Obama nor are there any Nazis there. Furthermore, the VA is often better than the TriCare system for veterans. He might also qualify for SSDI even before the age of 62 due to his medical problems.

      It seems this Seal couldn’t do field ops and didn’t want to do desk duty, so he left 3 1/2 years before he eligible for retirement benefits. That was his choice. However, he should have been told of the other benefits he was eligible for. That is a serious problem in the military.

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    • sumitchComment by sumitch
      February 12, 2013 @ 10:26 pm

      Just a passing thought. He may be able to train or do some desk job it’s true. But, was he offered that opportunity? The military is under no obligation to offer anyone anything unless they choose to. Still, it seems like it would be easy enough to cut out one “girls night out” to Spain or just a few trips back and forth between California and D C from Madamn Pelosi and cut him a little slack. It can be done if the military wants to. I wonder if he tried to get a disability discharge? It’s a shame no matter what the circumstances were and are. We should do more for our injured veterans who in many cases have no real chance for a meaningful job for their future.

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    • my04301933Comment by my04301933
      February 13, 2013 @ 10:13 am

      I can’t fault the VA, nor the “Shooter”..

      …but I can fault a “SNAFU” system that is so complicated that one must be a “rocket scientist” to register for EARNED medical assistance or pensions…i.e, an insurance policy which we pre-paid for as service personnel.

      I am running into that blockade now as I investigate my earned benefits from past service…I’m in my 80s and am not senile, but it just seems they take something that’s so simple and make it complicated…

      BUT…I still believe in the VA, the Military…as my sources of “brotherhood”…and assistance, once I simplify the system on my own…

      OUR GREATEST CONCRN as of now, is that our AMERICA is about to be overturned as we know it….

      And that we shall become a dictatorship gradually during these next 4 years….from within…

      And that we IGNORE THE SIGNS!

      Obama is doing just what all dictators have done…

      …first turning the country into a socialist, dependent mentality…

      …and from their bringing about a national emergency fabricated by the current government to arouse and frighten the people,…

      …then to declare martial laws that attack our current freedoms…in return for protection from the threat…

      …allowed by a now militant and dictatorial government…

      …on a temporary basis until the national threat ends…

      …which is never.

      But what do I know? I’m just an old fart…but from my rocking chair on my from porch, I shall watch you know-it-all youngsters…

      …bow to Obama as he passes in review in a black limo,

      …kiss his arse as he lowers if from his shoulders so your lips can reach it…

      …praise him as he farts in your cereal…

      …and as your children, with Brown Shirts on, run along side of his limo…

      …waving a new flag with his picture on it…

      …shouting with glee “Our Obama, Our Obama, our only lord, our only savior!”

      SO, JUST DO NOTHING…hold out your hands so you can get your freebies…

      …after all, you’ve paid for them…with your children and your country.

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  2. clint54Comment by clint54
    February 12, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

    Such a tragic course this country is going. Half wit liberal lunatics running this administration. People sacrifice their lives abroad for what? Obama is a another Hitler reincarnate. Your service and duty fades away and never remembered. I hope the whole system of government burns…

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  3. wedeyComment by wedey
    February 12, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

    It shouldn’t have been up to this man to find out what he was entitled to. Someone should have explained all that to him.
    However, we give illegals health care so shouldn’t our military get a higher priority.

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    • nateComment by nate
      February 12, 2013 @ 4:19 pm

      Not only Ilegals but our morons in congress as well

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  4. ltparComment by ltpar
    February 12, 2013 @ 2:04 pm

    As I understand it we have a guy who has 16 years in the military, in an elite unit and his actions against Osama, put him at the head of that class. Why would this guy not do one more four year tour of duty and be elgible for a military pension? Even if he had a physical ailment, he could have worked in a training capacity, or even administrative work to get the time in. That said, otside the military, the guy could almost write his own ticket in the Private Security Field, doing work ranging from Corporate VIP Protection to training positions with companies like the former Blackwater, now XE. This story has a lot of holes in in that need filling before we get the true picture.

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    • afretiredComment by afretired
      February 12, 2013 @ 2:20 pm

      I don’t buy it that anyone who put 16 years in the military doesn’t know what benefits they are entitled to. I was briefed on what benefits I was eligible for when I retired from service. A military pension is afforded to those who serve honorably for a minimum of 20 years. If one opts to leave early he/she is not eligible for that pension no matter where you served or who you killed. The big question is why is he leaving so close to reirement and a pension of 50% of base pay and medical through Tricare? As Itpar said, he has options in the military that would take him to retirement and a military pension.

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  5. jimComment by james
    February 12, 2013 @ 2:11 pm

    I find it hard to believe that a Navy Seal and someone who is at the top of his game wouldn’t have the slightest idea that he’d have to complete 20 years of service in order to qualify for a pension. I also find it hard to believe that he wouldn’t have been debriefed about the benefits that are available to him.

    A man of the shooters capability, skill, and intelligence would not be this uninformed, in my opinion. There is a possibility that this story may not pass the smell test.

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  6. bizzybuzzerComment by bizzybuzzer
    February 12, 2013 @ 2:14 pm

    Health care after serving in the military has quite a mystery to it. It is close to impossible to find out just what it is, but if you have been there-done that you have your own story.
    In my case, I spent 13 years from 1954 to 1967, the best years of my life. I didn’t spend the required 20 years so I had no medical or anything else. Decided not to make a career of it because promotions were frozen. Spent too much in Vietnam so to cut expenses discouraged reenlistment.
    Another vet told me that if I needed helps go check with the VA hospital. San Antonio hospital turned me down flat. Went to Kerrville, Tx and they were totally different. Appointments were 6 months apart, got meds help and TLC. I put them in my will. Amarillo, Tx was good to me also but changed and charged.
    Serving in the military brings with it very little thanks and we don’t expect it any more than any public servant but lack of communication fits there also. This gives me the opportunity to Thank the Kerrville and Amarillo VA Hospitals.
    We hold our feelings for those who tell us we don’t deserve any help from the VA or anyone else. We didn’t join the service to get it either.

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    • sumitchComment by sumitch
      February 12, 2013 @ 10:32 pm

      I’d like to add the Veterans Clinic in Denton and Bonham and the VA hospital in Dallas. Texas has one of the best VA programs in the country. And I’m more than grateful.

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  7. jenerseaComment by jenersea
    February 12, 2013 @ 2:34 pm

    Something just does not add up? If he has all those things from the Navy, then he should be service connected for them at the VA, and can apply. If approved he can receive tax free disability payments for his service connections. Everyone who seperates from the military goes to seperation classes and is briefed on how to contact the VA to see what his benefits with them are. At the VAs, there are numerous programs set up to get vets back on their feet and functioning in the civilian world. Sometimes things move slow, like any Government service, but the difference is night and day compared to what it was after Nam. It really sounds like a smear campaign to me. The question is to what motive?

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  8. jgrimaudComment by jgrimaud
    February 12, 2013 @ 2:37 pm

    I agree with the last two writers. Something is wrong with this story or with the individual. I probably never could have been tough enough to be a Navy Seal. I did go through Jump School at Ft Benning, however, and some Seals went through with me. While our formation ran around the track, the Seals had to run around our formation. While we did push ups, the Seals had to do it one handed. They seemed to be awful proud to do it. I wished I could have been tough enough to be a Seal, and if I were, I am sure I would have wanted to be the one to plug Ben Laden right between the eyes. I did spend 20 years in the Air Force, including two Vietnam Tours as a fighter pilot. The hotest I could volunteer for was being a Wild Weasel in an F-105 flying 100 missions over the North. Left a number of good buddies there for 6 years as POWs. A number of others did not come back at all. Everytime I visit the Vietnam Memorial and see my friends names there I cannot hold back the tears. Too many memories of our children playing together. I was lucky. But the guys I served with went in to serve their country. We wanted to be where the action was. I cannot believe those Seals felt any different or they would not have been there either. I would have done it for no benefits, although I am enjoying a lot of them after my full retirement, And since my retirement my country has provided me a great opportunity to provide for my family in business beyond my wildest expectations.

    I could say a lot of things about what is going on in the political environment right now. I ran for congress twice to try to do something about it, but didn’t quite make it. Still, my priorities are God, Family, Country, and Career. I hope I never lose sight of those priorities. Although country is number three it still ranks above career.

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  9. senior29Comment by senior29
    February 12, 2013 @ 2:51 pm

    I elected for discharge after twelve years of service. I too am a Vietnam era vet and when it was over it was just over. i got no separation info about the VA, no thank yous, it was just over.
    But for a serious family tragedy that led me to leave I’d have been proud to serve the full twenty.
    If the “shooter” was healthy enough to go after UBL he should be healthy enough, barring psych problems, to do another four years. Must be more to it because it sound quite right.

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  10. beriberiComment by beriberi
    February 12, 2013 @ 2:57 pm

    Come on now . . . no one that served 16 years in “Uncle’s Canoe Club,” and I mean NO ONE, would come up with such a cockamamie story such as is being foisted on the American public as this.

    Every Sailor from day 1 would know this is a fantasy tale of some wannabe reporter trying very unsuccessfully to get a by line. No military man or woman retires from the service at 16 years. If they get out at 16 they are briefed upon discharge of what they have and don’t have upon discharge.

    And to hear of it coming from someone ‘supposedly’ a Navy Seal is more in the fantasy realm, Navy Seals are the cream of the crop, and their individual and over all intelligence is above average for any going into the service.

    I was a Career Counselor for my last 4 years before retiring and one of my responsibilities was giving pre-discharge interviews to my men in my department before they were discharged no matter what type of discharge they were receiving.

    So sorry mr or ms reporter my BS Meter has kicked in big time on this one, and any one attempting to give that so called reporter credence to this pile of bovine feces.

    Barry PO1 USN RET

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    • ironhandmikeComment by ironhandmike
      February 12, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

      Well Mr. PO1, I was in the Marine Corps for 8 years and have been in the VA system for 46 years and this is the first I’ve ever heard of a non-retiree and his family having VA healthcare for 5 years….w/o a disability rating over 50%.
      Not everyone who has been on active duty is privy to what the VA does or doesn’t do, so cool off with your snied remarks until you have enough information to make a balanced decision.

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    • beriberiComment by beriberi
      February 12, 2013 @ 5:08 pm


      I know the Navy way, who knows how you JarHeads do it.
      The VA is just that, and vets don’t necessarily need 50% they work on a case by case basis, I don’t use them since I have a base close by (Air Force though it is), but we did have a check off sheet in the Navy that we used to go through the pre-discharge interview though.

      So tell me are you an Ex-Marine or did you bring honor to the Corps? You sound a bit disgruntled to me.

      Barry PO1 USN RET

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    • ironhandmikeComment by ironhandmike
      February 12, 2013 @ 5:49 pm

      Was was on Active duty between 1960 and 1966. I was “released” in 1966 due to combat related injuries. I was told not to let the door hit me in the ***, given an address near my hometown for the closest VA and sent packing. I was a E-6 and had a clean record, but I was in a back brace and had a lot of healing to do. I went to the VA, was given a rating, and then reported to the Marine Reserves, as per orders upon EAS. I did 2 years in the reserve (part of it in a back brace) and was then discharged. I was never given the old root-e-toot re-up talk, never given a disability pamphlet by the VA and never was sent a check for the rating I had, “Because your still in the Marine Coprs.”
      So, I was one of the Nations finest, and still am proud to be a Marine, and my opinion of the VA is lower than whale***.

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  11. gadfly99Comment by gadfly99
    February 12, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

    Let’s get real here. Whoever (if anyone) was killed in Pakistan, it wasn’t Osama Bin Laden. He died years ago from his fatal kidney disease as widely reported. This stunt was just another BO fraud!

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  12. oldvlcComment by oldvlc
    February 12, 2013 @ 4:55 pm

    When I retired, the transition briefing team was very thorough in explaining what benefits we were entitled to; I cannot fathom him not being told of the VA medical care.

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  13. Pingback: VIDEO What’s the REAL Story with the SEAL Who Shot Bin Laden? | Reclaim Our Republic

  14. gm1919Comment by gm1919
    February 12, 2013 @ 6:30 pm

    Hell in less than 5 years none of us will have healthcare we can afford. Except the illegals. You legal pay your taxes, work hard and support your family and get what Government health insurance. We are F—–. Not the shooter. Illegals live off of us. When will we smarten up and get rid of democrats and rino’s. The left isnt smart enough to know they are cutting there own throats by voting for Obama and his socialist minions.

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  15. williambjrComment by williambjr
    February 12, 2013 @ 7:16 pm

    God Bless this man.

    Will any one take a minute to consider just maybe PTSD may be in play here? That his Seals Pride of Self is in the way of him admitting he needs help. While the Government people are pushing him out as fast as they can so no one will know! Being the trigger man in such a high profile shooting just may be a tuff bitter pill and this Seal is choking on it!

    When all he and his family will have is Welfare Medicaid and Medicare if they qualify?

    Not all have a ¼ million $$ a year job like in to big to fail government.

    As his family there may not be any health care Insurance for them that can afford!

    May be someone will offer him work, but with all small businesses under the Obama health care gun there just may not be any work.

    Not all have a ¼ million $$ a year job like in to big to fail government Senate.

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  16. jagansComment by jagans
    February 12, 2013 @ 8:04 pm

    Why is anyone surprised at this? This country treats its veterans like ****. Always has. Agent Orange? Nahhhh that stuff Dioxin wont hurt you, who told you that? It just defoliates Jungles.

    Just stand there and watch this atomic bomb go off. Oh and here are your sun glasses. Radiation? What Radiation? Nahhhhh, There aint no radiation.

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  17. mrsgunnut10Comment by mrsgunnut10
    February 12, 2013 @ 8:37 pm

    There has to be a reason why he didn’t stay for his 20 year retirement. He should have been able to “stand on his head” a few times a day for those last 3 years. I knew a man, in Oklahoma, that was scheduled to go overseas for the first time in his 20 years of Service. Instead of going where they told him to go, he got mad and quit with exactly 20 years of Service. He did not realize that, by not staying a little over 20 years, would screw up his Lifetime Pension. He actually got paid for “over 18 years” and not “over 20 years”. That is a big loss of dollars,that can’t be made up over the rest of your life. It would be interesting to find out why this man did not complete his 20 years for retirement pay for the rest of his life . Thank you for your time. TSgt., USAF Retired.

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  18. bowler1hatComment by bowler1hat
    February 13, 2013 @ 2:03 am

    Those with experience from Vietnam know there was a draft that kept a certain level of new recruits and allowed for one tour in country for most people. A second tour most always had to be requested.

    Under Bush and Obama, troops were rotated in three, four and five times. Both are inept in military knowledge of the soldier on the ground. Bush skipped out on his service and Obama has no concept of service. They are just his pawn for sabre rattling. Taking care of the troops has not been this administration’s best suit. They take far better care of illegals and the professional entitlement class that refuses to work than those who defend the country.

    For our hero, Congress has left him a convoluted trail to navigate for any benefits. To leave after 16 years signals that he is burned out. That should be enough for some consideration by the VA. Besides, Obama thinks he pulled the trigger on bin Laden, so which one needs to have his head examined?

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  19. braines57Comment by braines57
    February 14, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

    I have just one thing to add: I have known several people – family and close friends – who served in the military, not as a career, but still did their duty for all of us. When each of them needed to apply for medical care from VA, they were given the run-around. Red tape on top of red tape and oh yes, more red tape. If you are wounded in action, you will get care immediately following the injury; however, when you finally retire and should be eligible to receive care through the VA, it can takes months and sometimes years to go through the whole process. This has always greatly angered me – everyone who has served our country deserves nothing less than our best, not some red tape runaround. I believe that all our public officials should be limited to only the same level of benefits that our service men and women receive, minus one level, based on their years of service. I wonder how quickly that red tape would disappear then?

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    • ironhandmikeComment by ironhandmike
      February 14, 2013 @ 1:09 pm

      Well brains, this out to put someyhing other than frosting on your Wheaties.
      When a veteran has “outside” or private insurance, it is charged for his medical care FIRST, and then the VA covers what is not paid by the insurance. This occurs no matter the degree of disability, and even if it is service connected condition. Before all you VA lovers get riled up about that statement-you’d better take another look at the system in place for the past 4 years. So the vet who does not have insurance is covered by the VA and the vet who does have insurance is not…EVEN THO HE HAS A CONTRACT with the Govt. for his continuing medical care, and his service connected disability is just that….it occured during his service to his Country.
      Hope your Wheaties doesn’t have a bitter taste now.
      What this means in my case is that my wife is financing my service connected disability.

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    • braines57Comment by braines57
      February 15, 2013 @ 12:53 pm

      ironhandmike you make a good point and it is just another example to me of how our government is cheating our verterans out of their rightful benefits. I have always held the opinion that no one should be allowed to run for President of the United States unless they have served a minimum of 3 years of active duty in our military. I believe the same requirement should apply to all Congressmen, since Congress has the power to declare war and the POTUS has the power to order troops into the field. I also believe that no Congressman or Senator or POTUS should receive any higher level of benefits than those we extend to our veterans – no better healthcare plan, no better pension, nada. I just wonder how many liberal idiots would be left in Washington, DC if we were able to pass such an amendment?

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  20. tomtComment by tomt
    February 15, 2013 @ 6:04 pm

    From personal experience with Esquire, I would not believe much of anything they write. They do not need facts to write a story.

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