Navy SEALs

The Navy SEAL who says he killed Osama bin Laden has left the service and, according to a new profile in Esquire magazine, now feels abandoned by the military, with inadequate health coverage, no pension and no security detail. We talk with Phil Bronstein, the author of the piece, about the details of bin Laden’s shooting and the hardships faced by even the most elite military personnel when they return to civilian life. And we discuss the controversy surrounding the article. Critics say the piece mischaracterizes the services the government provides to veterans. Among other charges, they say the article failed to acknowledge the health benefits to which bin Laden’s shooter is entitled.

Has the Military Abandoned Osama bin Laden’s Shooter? 13 February,2013forum

Phil Bronstein, executive chairman of the Center for Investigative Reporting and former editor of The San Francisco Chronicle

  • Bob Fry

    Sheesh. Our mercenaries (we don’t have volunteers) now expect prima donna treatment for everything. The guy left 4 years before he would have got a pension. And why in the world should he get a security detail? He should have kept his mouth shut about what he did.

  • Mrs. Eccentric

    My brother retired from the Air Force a little over ten years ago, after 20 years of service, so i’ve seen first hand the very real problems a person can have trying to fit back into civilian life. My brother’s duties were such that he could be called overseas for an indeterminate amount of time (often months) with just a few hours notice, and he also was in a position where he could discuss very little of what he did with friends and family. When you live and breathe one way of life for decades it’s an immense task to even participate in regular family life, not to mention the whole civilian job culture.

    But i was also unclear on the whole lack of pension, etc. as portrayed in Mr. Bronstein’s article. My brother has very good health coverage and a nice pension (he works, but if he didn’t he’d still have a roof over his head and food on the table). I don’t understand – is the system different these days, or was there some situation where ‘the shooter’ had to leave the navy at this time instead of waiting for retirement? I would just appreciate some clarification of what the situation is around this.

    Personally i wouldn’t have a problem with our gov’t providing some type of security detail or help with security for this guy and his family (not to mention other SEALS involved in this whole operation). The government has been telling us for years about how deadly and determined AQ and Bin Laden were/are, if that’s the case then AQ would have their own intel in order to try to ID ‘the shooter’ and would have a big motivation for revenge. I’m sure it would be a great PR coup for AQ to get this guy, too, and would make the USA look bad. Given the government’s own statements about AQ’s abilities, why we’re militarily involved in the middle east, pakistan, etc. it would only seem to be common sense. steph

  • Mrs. Eccentric

    ah, i just saw and read the article linked above: “Navy Seal Who Killed OBL Unemployed, Waiting For Disability Benefits”. This article does a good job of explaining ‘the shooter’s financial, pension, etc. situation. This information would have been greatly appreciated in the original article (which i also read). I understand about editing for space and the targeted readership – but given that this info is vital to proving the thesis presented in the title of the article, it’s ridiculous it was left out.

    This information also provides yet another example of the shoddy and shameful way we treat our vets. There’s no excuse for it. steph

  • Chris OConnell

    He is the one who left the military, or “abandoned” it per your headline, not the other way around.

  • Guest

    I hope anyone who ever thinks about enlisting to become one of our “magnificent troops” will read this article (but I doubt they will). If Tim Cook can make $400M over ten years playing with Apple’s toys, we really can’t pay people who kill on our behalf for a living too much can you? These bloodthirsty products of the American way deserve a golden parachute…right?

  • Rusanoff

    Thank you for doing this, thank you for giving a voice to those that the bureaucracy of the Military steamrolles into obscure memory.

  • Curious

    I have no issues with his wanting to Leave, but as a member of the Voluntary Military Force, he only has Benefits if he is Active Duty, he resigns, he loses his Benefits, Just like the private Sector. Could he have not transferred to another unit or some admin function and remained Active Duty?

  • Chris OConnell

    It seems like it was a kill mission. I understand that Osama bin Laden was not armed. Why did the shooter not arrest him when he saw his tall self before him? It is a silly question right because arrest was never in the cards, was it?

  • Guest

    Everyone understands that a member MUST serve a minimum of 20 years in order to get a pension. Although it is true that

  • Phil from Burlingame

    Why did the shooter retire before 20 years? Why didn’t he re-up and reach retirement pension age?

  • ralvek

    First a big thank you to the SEAL and all others that serve.

    This is just a shameless ploy for Mr Bronstein to whip up publicity for himself and the SEAL hawking potentially classified information that could jeopardize both future missions and hurt morale. Shame on Bronstein!

  • Zapppu

    What an achievement – I’m sure it will go down in history, along with Gettysburg, D-Day, Waterloo as among the greatest military accomplishments – the most powerful country in the world, the best equipped and largest military in the world has succeeded in killing one defensless man. This is what the trillions of dollars have bought us, this is what we glory in.This is what our bloodthirsty president who has given himself the right to kill anyone anywhere in the world, prides himself on. And now instead of mocking this inconsequential accomplishment we wring our hands over the man who did the deed, because he is not being rewarded enough. Yes sir lets raise that star spangled banner high, for that’s all we can now do, assassinate individuals, We keep getting our asses whipped wherever we turn, and we we only turn against the weakest and poorest.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor