Shooter’s health ben­e­fits, lost and found,

Modern Healthcare - - NEWS -

Out­liers was a lit­tle puz­zled last week when we read that the Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden was with­out health­care af­ter leav­ing the ser­vice last fall af­ter 16 years.

A fas­ci­nat­ing story about the veteran, who is called sim­ply the Shooter in the piece, was jointly pub­lished by the Cen­ter for In­ves­tiga­tive Re­port­ing and Esquire (ciron­line.org/theshooter).

In the 15,000-word story, Phil Bron­stein—who over­sees the Cen­ter for In­ves­tiga­tive Re­port­ing—wrote: “Here is what he gets from his em­ployer and a grate­ful na­tion: Noth­ing. No pen­sion, no health­care, and no pro­tec­tion for him­self or his fam­ily.”

Not true, says Stars and Stripes re­porter Me­gan McCloskey. The former SEAL, like all com­bat veter­ans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, is au­to­mat­i­cally el­i­gi­ble for five years of free health­care ser­vices through the Veter­ans Af­fairs De­part­ment. McCloskey added that Bron­stein said his claim that the government gave the Shooter “noth­ing” for health­care ben­e­fits is ac­cu­rate be­cause no one told him those ben­e­fits were avail­able. “He said there wasn’t space in the ar­ti­cle to ex­plain that the former SEAL’s lack of health­care was driven by an ig­no­rance of the ben­e­fits to which he’s en­ti­tled,” McCloskey wrote in her piece.

At that point, the de­bate be­tween the story’s pub­lish­ers and McCloskey de­volved into what was or wasn’t in the piece pub­lished on­line by the Cen­ter for In­ves­tiga­tive Re­port­ing ver­sus the ver­sion pub­lished by Esquire. But Esquire stands by the story’s main ar­gu­ment that the man who killed bin Laden is hav­ing to bear the bur­den for his health­care and his fam­ily’s.

But there was a bright spot in the in­ci­dent. Esquire later re­ported that the Shooter and some fel­low veter­ans trav­eled last week to Capi­tol Hill, where they pre­sented nine mem­bers of the House and Se­nate with a three-part pro­posal to help elite mem­bers of the mil­i­tary tran­si­tion to civil­ian life. In­cluded in that plan, which wouldn’t re­quire leg­is­la­tion, is a rec­om­men­da­tion for en­hanced tran­si­tion ser­vices that must be pro­vided on an “opt-out” ba­sis. It also calls for 18 months of com­pre­hen­sive health in­surance avail­able im­me­di­ately for veter­ans and their fam­i­lies.

The March 2013 is­sue of Esquire car­ries the tale of “the Shooter.”

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