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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