Military: 'Shooter' can get healthcare

Feb. 12, 2013 at 10:29 AM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. military said an Esquire magazine article was wrong in stating the former Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden was denied health insurance.

In an article posted on Esquire magazine's website, the former SEAL Team 6 member, identified as "the Shooter," recounts how he fired three shots into bin Laden's forehead during the raid on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May 2011.

The Esquire article also said the Shooter -- as well as his comrades in the raid -- didn't get any of the $25 million reward and he also was left without a pension, healthcare or other support for himself or his family.

Stars and Stripes reported Monday all combat veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, including the Shooter, are automatically eligible for five years of free healthcare through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The writer of the Shooter's story, Phil Bronstein, head of the Center for Investigative Reporting, told Stars and Stripes his assertion that the government gave the SEAL "nothing" in terms of healthcare is fair and accurate because the SEAL didn't know the VA benefits existed.

"No one ever told him that this is available," Bronstein said, adding that space constraints didn't allow for a fuller explanation.

The Center for Investigating Reporting posted on its website the story detailing the SEAL's interactions with the VA, including that a disability claim that is mired in a backlog.

The article created a situation in which veterans may consider not enrolling in the VA system, said veteran advocate Brandon Friedman, who served as an Army infantry officer in Iraq and Afghanistan and once was a VA public affairs officer.

"Misinformation like this doesn't help veterans," Friedman said. "When one veteran hears in a high-profile story that another veteran was denied care, it makes him or her less likely to enroll in the VA system."

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