The SEAL Team 6 member who shot and killed Osama bin Laden is without healthcare or a pension, and he won’t benefit from any books or movies based on his story.
Esquire and the Center for Investigative Reporting have published an interview with the soldier. As it turns out, Phil Bronstein, the executive chair of the Center for Investigative Reporting, spent a year talking to the anonymous 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,” which was verified by a number of sources, including other SEALS, “of those crucial few seconds” in which the SEAL team 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 anonymous SEAL shooter faces “exceptional” issues upon his re-entry to society, they’re “similar to those many veterans face when leaving the service.”
The man who took out the world’s most wanted terrorist is living in worse conditions than his enemy.