Monday, February 11, 2013

Navy SEAL who killed Osama unemployed and waiting for VA

UPDATE From Esquire February 12, 2013 4:28 pm updated here

February 12, 2013, 8:30 AM

The Shooter Needs Health Insurance: A Response to Stars and Stripes
By The Editors

Editor's Note: The online version of The Shooter story did not reflect the final version of the story in the print magazine, which went to press 10 days ago. The print version included more details about the availability of benefits for veterans. Unfortunately, this omission on the online version, which has been corrected, has led to a misunderstanding, through no fault of her own, by reporter Megan McCloskey and others about some of the facts in our story regarding healthcare and our veterans. The online version of the piece omitted the following paragraph that appears in the print magazine: "There is also a program at MacDill Air Force Base designed to help Special Ops vets navigate various bureaucracies. And the VA does offer five years of benefits for specific service-related claims—but it’s not comprehensive and it offers nothing for the Shooter’s family." The story's argument, however, remains the same: That the man who shot and killed Osama bin Laden, as the following post explains, remains responsible for his own healthcare and that of his family.

Esquire article wrongly claims SEAL who killed Bin Laden is denied healthcare
Published: February 11, 2013
Esquire magazine claims “The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden ... Is Screwed.”

The story details the life of the Navy SEAL after the successful raid to take out the No. 1 terrorist, and it asserts that once the SEAL got out of the military he was left to fend for himself.

“ 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.”

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.
Sorry but even this is wrong. This is from the article below.
The VA offers five years of virtually free health care for every veteran honorably discharged after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, even when he or she leaves the military early. But the Shooter told Bronstein that none of the counselors who came to SEAL Command told him that. That coverage also would not extend to his family.

So yes it did say that.
NOTE:Not sure how much the reporter did to verify this story but sooner or later we'll know for sure.
VA's disability backlog hurts Navy SEAL who killed bin Laden
Center for Investigative Reporting
Feb 11, 2013
Aaron Glantz

The Navy SEAL who says he killed Osama bin Laden is unemployed and waiting for disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In an exclusive story for Esquire by Phil Bronstein of the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Shooter adds many details to what already is known about the death of the al-Qaida leader. His name is withheld to protect his identity.

The Shooter told Bronstein, CIR’s executive chairman, that he alone killed the terrorist leader, recounting minute details of those brief seconds. As the second Navy SEAL up a staircase, he saw bin Laden inside a room.

“For me it was a snapshot of a target ID, definitely him,” he said. “Even in our kill houses where we train, there are targets with his face on them. This was repetition and muscle memory. That’s him, boom, done.”

But perhaps the Shooter’s most explosive revelation is that nearly six months after leaving the military, he feels abandoned by the government. Physically aching and psychologically wrecked after hundreds of combat missions, he left the military a few years short of the retirement requirement with no pension.

“It was nearly impossible to believe when he first told me he got such a dearth of support from the U.S. government,” Bronstein said. “Where’s the thank you?”

Like 820,000 other veterans, his disability claim is stuck in a seemingly interminable backlog at the VA, where the average wait time currently exceeds nine months, based on the agency’s own data.

The speedier special track for Special Forces veterans appears to have eluded him, and so his neck, back and eye injuries remain uncompensated, removing a chance for a modicum of financial stability.
read more here
VA Claim Backlog Examples
2000 311,000
2007 755,000
2008 879,291
2009 915,000
The backlog has been exacerbated by the administration’s 2010 decision to accept 260,000 previously denied and new claims associated with Agent Orange exposure.
UPDATE Just got off the phone with a friend asking about this story. The plight of special forces veterans is astonishing. Their claims are very hard to verify because of security secrets the Pentagon keeps. While this is understandable, the veterans still need help with physical and mental health issues.

Here's a thought. Why can't the Pentagon come up with some kind of form to verify the fact these veterans were placed in dangerous situations that would cause PTSD or that the wounds they are claiming as service connected were in fact caused by their service without having to divulge classified information?

Why should they suffer for the secrets they kept when they need to be cared for by the country they served?