The Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden during a midnight raid on his hideout in Pakistan is now adjusting to life as a civilian — and is doing so without a pension, health insurance or disability benefits, according to Esquire.
The retired member of the U.S. military's Special Forces, who is identified only as "the Shooter" to protect his identity tells the magazine in an expansive interview that he has no idea how he's going to support his children and his wife, from whom he is separated. He says he also suffers from arthritis, tendonitis, vision issues, blown disks, and other ailments related to his service, which began at age 19.
"I left SEALs on [a] Friday," he told Esquire. "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 f--- yourself.'" (He was not eligible for transitional benefits because he did not agree to remain on active duty or become a reservist.)
Instead, insurance cost the Shooter $486 a month, in addition to other out-of-pocket expenses like weekly chiropractic treatments. His disability claims will not kick in for at least eight months. Also, because he left the service about three years before the official retirement cutoff of 20 years of service, he is not eligible to receive a pension. (If he had been eligible, it would have totaled about $26,000 per year.) "I still have the same bills I had in the Navy," he told Esquire. "I just want to be able to pay all those bills, take care of my kids, and work from there," he says. "I'd like to take the things I learned and help other people in any way I can."
As the article notes, none of the SEAL Team members will see a dime of the $25 million reward that the U.S. government put on Bin Laden's head in the wake of 9/11. Because their identities must be kept secret, they also can't accept royalties from any books or movies that come out about the raid. And, according to the Esquire report, most of the men dismiss writing tell-alls and granting televised interviews as options to earn income.
On top of all his bills, the Shooter says he's worried about being a target for terrorists because of his role in Bin Laden's death, and as for protecting his family? "I don't have the resources," he says.