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Uncertain future for bin Laden shooter

6:20 AM, Feb 12, 2013   |    comments
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The Navy SEAL Team Six member who shot and killed Osama bin Laden says he has lost his health insurance benefits after leaving the service in September 2012, according to an interview in the March issue of Esquire that ran Monday on its website.

The unnamed shooter, who spoke at length with journalist Phil Bronstein, says he also lost a future pension because he left the SEALs about three years before the official retirement requirement of 20 years of service, says the report, which was completed with cooperation from the Center for Investigative Reporting.

"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," the Shooter, as he's referred to in the story, told Bronstein. "You're out of the service, your coverage is over. Thanks for your sixteen years."

Tricare, a health care program of the U.S. Department of Defense Military Health System, provides civilian benefits for military personnel, retirees and their dependents.

The government provides 180 days of transitional benefits, but the Shooter is eligible only if he agrees to remain on active duty in a support role, or become a reservist, the report says.

With some lost vision, the Shooter plans to buy private insurance for $486 a month but will have to pay out-of-pocket for some chiropractic care.

The Shooter has no private sector job waiting for him and his wife is "waiting to see how he replaces even the $60,000 a year he was making (not including special bonuses)," the report says.

Because the Shooter left the Navy early, he doesn't get a pension. If he had stayed in for the required 20 years, his pension would have been 50 percent his base pay - $2,197 a month, according to the report.

The Shooter joined the Navy at 19 after a breakup with a girl. "That's the reason Al Qaeda has been decimated," he told Bronstein, "because she broke my heart."

He has had 12 long-term SEAL deployments, and has "thirty-plus kills of enemy combatants," the article states.

Twenty-three SEALs flew to Pakistan in the dark of the night on May 2, 2011 with the mission of killing bin Laden. Although the Shooter was the "number two" behind the point man going up the stairs to bin Laden's third-floor residence, he was the one who pulled the trigger that killed the al-Qaeda leader, says Bronstein, adding he confirmed the Shooter's role in the mission with "enough people connected to the SEALs and the bin Laden mission."

The Esquire story comes five months after another SEAL, Matt Bissonnette, published a book about the raid and his role in the mission. The Pentagon says the book revealed classified material.

The Shooter refused to identify to Bronstein that Bissonnette is the colleague who wrote the book. "I still want him and his family to be safe no matter what," he told Bronstein. "If he didn't want (his name) out, I shouldn't either. That is my thinking, anyway."

Roger Yu, USA TODAY

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