While everyone seems shocked to hear the Navy SEAL who shot Osama Bin Laden is going through hard times, there are some clarifications worth noting in terms of military benefits.
P ublished by the Center For Investigative Reporting in conjunction with Esquire, "The Shooter" by Phil Bronstein describes how this American hero has been neglected:
[T]he Shooter will discover soon enough that when he leaves after sixteen years in the Navy, his body filled with scar tissue, arthritis, tendinitis, 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.
This passage, though dramatic, is less than accurate.
Perhaps the Shooter and Bronstein haven't heard of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008, which authorized five years of free health care for all combat veterans of Post 9/11 operations. As soon as servicemembers get out, they are covered under the Veterans Affairs health system and can walk into any VA-facility.
Bronstein responded to a query about this from Megan McCloskey at Stars and Stripes, saying, “No one ever told him that this is available." He went on to say 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 assertion coming from a servicemember who has been in the service for 16 years — especially with transition assistance classes designed specifically for educating veterans as they leave active duty, seems a bit far-fetched.
And while the Shooter won't get any pension after 16 years, a quote from his friend and fellow teammate on leaving before becoming eligible at 20 years is questionable logic:
"If I get killed on this next deployment, I know my family will be taken care of." (The Navy does offer decent life-insurance policies at low rates.) "College will be paid for, they'll be fine.
"But if I come back alive and retire, I won't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out for the rest of my life. Sad to say, it's better if I get killed."
The standard military life insurance policy offers death benefits to the tune of $400,000 to survivors, but his quote about retirement doesn't add up. The military retirement pension is arguably one of the best deals around, and much better than similar civilian programs.
The Shooter is likely at least a Navy Chief (Paygrade E-7). He also is married and has children. So using his paygrade with 16 years of service and a family of four, I did some quick calculations. Here's what I found:
At that paygrade, he brought in about $6,290 a month (Over $75,000 annually)
If he retired in 4 years, he'd bring in a roughly $2,100 monthly pension.
His health problems would also allow him to claim a separate pension with the VA, which would likely bring in at least a few hundred extra dollars.
A far cry from "not a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out for the rest of my life."
He also mentions that on top of his physical problems, he was having suicidal thoughts — possibly from post traumatic stress. All of these ills can be claimed with the VA and once approved, he would be paid an additional disability pension for the rest of his life.
This could be anywhere from about $400 to over $3,000, depending on the disability percentage he is approved for.
Maybe the pension alone isn't enough for a decent sized family to live on, but coupled with what would likely amount to 100 percent disability, 'The Shooter' would be living rather easy. It's just a matter of personal responsibility.
And while it is a shame that the man who shot Bin Laden has encountered a rocky road, he is certainly not without a safety net — and one that could at least in part be redeemed, simply by walking into the nearest VA armed only with a working pen.
The original Esquire piece raised plenty of questions about some of the claims — many of which are addressed here, but without records or more information on "the Shooter", they will unfortunately remain unanswered for now.
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