‘The Shooter’ Story Points
To Deeper Inequities
If Congress People Get Vested In Their Pension Plan After Five Years Of Battling Each Other, Shouldn’t Navy SEALS Get The Same Benefit After Battling Armed Enemies?
Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy.
By Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine
Feb. 19, 2013 — In a recent interview with Esquire, the man who shot and killed Osama bin Laden during a raid on his compound in Pakistan came forward with some fairly unsettling truths — namely, he and his family now live without a pension, without healthcare, and with no protection.
Despite participating in the most infamous raid in recent history and killing America’s Public Enemy No. 1, this man (only identified as “Shooter” in the article) struggles to make ends meet. Following a political campaign that exploited the events of that night in Pakistan to ensure Barack Obama’s re-election, and sentiments expressed by the President himself that no veteran should struggle, this man (who would be declared a hero if not for strict codes of secrecy) sits on the outside looking in.
A year, a presidential election, and a blockbuster movie later, and the man is left with nothing to show for his military career, outside of multiple chronic injuries.
The Esquire article details the multiple debilitating injuries the man must cope with on a daily basis and the way the United States Government all but abandoned him following his 16 years of military service.
“‘They [SEAL command] told me they could get me a job driving a beer truck in Milwaukee’ under an assumed identity,” Shooter told Esquire.
Everyone seemed to benefit from this man’s exploits — Hollywood, the military, the President — everyone except the man himself. While multiple hanger-ons took what they could from the bin Laden killing, and made a boatload of money in the process, this man and his family were left with nothing.
Phil Bronstein, the author of the article, is also quick to point out that the $25 million bounty put on bin Laden’s head is likely gone forever.
Bronstein wrote, “The U.S. government put a $25 million bounty on bin Laden that no one is likely to collect. Certainly not the SEALs who went on the mission nor the support and intelligence experts who helped make it all possible. Technology is the key to success in this case more than people, Washington officials have said.”
So, why is the Shooter, and likely others like him, left out in the cold? Well, for starters he did not meet the minimum 20-year service time needed to qualify for a pension.
While this explanation may be enough for some, it really just digs at a greater problem.
A person elected to Congress becomes vested in the pension plan after five years of service. Why is it that members of Congress receive comparable, and often times superior, pension and healthcare options following retirement than military personnel? Veterans like the Shooter operate in a high-risk environment during their terms of duty, while Congressmen and Congresswomen sit behind a desk and wax philosophic.
Sure, with more than 2 million in the varied branches of the U.S. military at any particular place in time, the cost to extend pensions to all of them far outstrips the several hundred Congress people. But these people are going into combat to “defend freedom.” Maybe that is the price of military conflict for those who actually see action and especially, tactical units like the SEALS.
Too many veterans come home physically and mentally beat down, equipped with skills that do not readily translate to civilian life, and receive little more than a mediocre care package from the government they fought for.
As the story of the Shooter unravels, it appears that another generation of American soldiers has been forgotten by its government. If the man who killed the single most infamous terrorist in American history has been left behind, the situation cannot be much better for the millions of other veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Wayne Schutsky is a freelance writer living in Phoenix.
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