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Report: SEAL who shot bin Laden without pension, health care

12:32 PM, Feb 11, 2013   |    comments
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USA TODAY - In what will likely be the day's second-biggest talker, Esquire and the Center for Investigative Reporting have published an interview with the SEAL Team 6 member who shot Osama bin Laden.

Phil Bronstein, the executive chair of the Center for Investigative Reporting, spent a year talking to the anonymous shooter (referred to as "the Shooter"), ultimately producing a nearly 15,000-word piece titled, "The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden ... Is Screwed."

The headline encapsulates the two-fold nature of the piece: recounting the "most definitive account" (verified by a number of sources, including other SEALS) "of those crucial few seconds" in which the Shooter put three bullets into bin Laden's head; and tackling this incongruity: "that a man with hundreds of successful war missions, one of the most decorated combat veterans of our age, who capped his [16-year] career by terminating bin Laden, has no landing pad in civilian life."

Bronstein catalogs the absent opportunities, like the $25 million bounty on bin Laden's head that won't go to the team and the movies and books from which it won't benefit; and the single offer from SEAL command that he could drive a beer truck in Milwaukee under a new identity. And while a private security job might be a valid route, "many of these guys, including the Shooter, do not want to carry a gun ever again for professional use," he says.

Bronstein also catalogs what the Shooter lacks: pension (he left service 36 months short of the necessary 20 years), health care (though he battles arthritis, eye damage, tendonitis, and blown disks), protection for his family (from a retaliatory attack), disability benefits (he's waiting), a healthy marriage (he and his wife have split, under the pressure of a job that took him away as many as 300 days a year), and communication from the Department of Veterans Affairs (computer-generated form letters aside). And as the Center for Investigative Reporting's executive director explains in an editor's note, while the Shooter faces "exceptional" issues upon his re-entry to society, they're "similar to those many veterans face when leaving the service."

(Copyright © 2013 USA TODAY)

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