The U.S. Navy SEAL who shot and killed Osama Bin Laden, who remains anonymous and is only referred to as “the Shooter” says that the military has left him uninsured after he retired early from the SEALs.
Retiring a little more than 36 months before his official retirement requirement of 20 years of service, the Shooter told Esquire in an exhaustive interview, “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. You're out of the service, your coverage is over. Thanks for your 16 years. Go fuck yourself."
In other words, when President Obama said last November in his Veterans Day address, “If you find yourself struggling with the wounds of war – such as post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries – we’ll be there as well, with the care and treatment you need … No veteran should have to wait months or years for the benefits that you’ve earned,” he was back to painting rosy pictures of a reality that doesn’t actually exist, as is painfully obvious by our nation’s treatment of the Shooter and other veterans like him.
In reality, what’s made clear by the Shooter’s interview is that the U.S. government faces a complete failure when it comes to helping those who committed their lives to ensuring the nation’s safety once they’ve resigned from the military.
While the government does provide 180 days of transitional health care, the Shooter was only eligible if he agreed to remain on active duty “in a support role,” or become a reservist, which he did not.
Instead, he currently buys his own private insurance for $486 a month, according to Esquire. But that still does not cover most treatments such as chiropractic care to relieve his wartime pains, which costs him $120 weekly out-of-pocket. And like most vets, he’ll still have to wait more than nine months, which is the average wait time according to the Center of Investigative Reporting, to have his disability claims adjudicated.
There is a possibility, however, that under the Affordable Care Act, the Shooter may be one of the 630,000 uninsured veterans who will now qualify for Medicaid or one of the 520,000 who would receive subsidized health insurance, according to a study that says more than one million veterans would benefit from Obamacare.
The Shooter also receives no pension for leaving early, but even if he had stayed for the full twenty, his pension would have been a mere $2,197 a month.
But that’s not where the travesties end, unfortunately. The Shooter and his family also receive no guard-duty protection after killing the world's most wanted terrorist and instead have to rely on hiding in the bathtub and using their shotgun for protection in the case of an emergency. When the family asked about some physical government protection, they were advised to join a witness-protection-like program, they told Esquire.
... You know, just as soon as the Department of Defense creates one.
Instead, the SEAL command told him they could get him a protection position driving a beer truck in Milwaukee under an assumed identity – though he wouldn’t be able to contact his friends or family.
It is difficult to believe that men and women like the Shooter, who have devoted years and years of their lives to the nation, put their lives at risk on a daily basis, leave their families at home – the same families feel their own share of agonizing fear and terror for their loved ones – receive such maltreatment when they finally come home.
The military is great at many things, including transitioning men and women from the real world to the military world. But among our government’s many failures is that they are the worst at helping those same men and women transition from the military world back to the real world.