'Shooter' Who Killed bin Laden Now Just Abandoned Ex-Navy SEAL

Monday, 11 Feb 2013 12:59 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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Update: After media scrutiny of the original story, Esquire has clarified that the shooter is indeed eligible for healthcare benefits. Click here for the full story.

The former Navy SEAL Team 6 member who actually killed Osama bin Laden in the May 2011 raid on the al-Qaida leader's Pakistan compound says he's been largely abandoned by the government he served for 16 years, according to his first-ever public interview exclusively with Esquire magazine.

Identified as "The Shooter" because of what the magazine described as safety reasons, the SEAL says that despite killing the world's most-wanted terrorist he was not given a pension, healthcare, or protection for himself or his family when he left the military nearly six months ago,

"[SEAL command] told me they could get me a job driving a beer truck in Milwaukee," the shooter told Esquire's Phil Bronstein, who also serves as the executive chairman of the Center for Investigative Reporting. "My healthcare for me and my family stopped. I asked if there was some transition from my Tricare to Blue Cross Blue Shield. They said no. You're out of the service; your coverage is over. Thanks for your 16 years. Go f*** yourself."

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The shooter accompanied SEAL Team 6 on the raid of bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 1, 2011, after weeks of intelligence gathering and top national security meetings between President Barack Obama and his war cabinet.

Reportedly psychologically wrecked, the shooter left the military just a few years short of the retirement requirement of 20 years, which the magazine says is the reason he was given no pension or healthcare benefits.

According to Esquire, the government provides 180 days of transitional healthcare benefits, but the shooter was ineligible because he did not agree to remain on active duty in a support role or become a "reservist."

Now, like 820,000 other veterans, the shooter's disability claim is stuck in a backlog at the Veterans Administration, where the average wait time exceeds nine months, according to the agency's own data.

"It was nearly impossible to believe when he first told me he got such a dearth of support from the U.S. government," Bronstein told his own Center for Investigative Reporting. "Where's the thank you?"

Accounts of bin Laden's death were kept mostly under wraps until September 2012, when fellow former SEAL Team 6 member Matt Bissonnette published a controversial book, "No Easy Day," under a pen name. The film "Zero Dark Thirty," released in December, offered a dramatized account of the raid.

The shooter also recounted the details of the mission that killed bin Laden, including the moment he pulled the trigger.

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"In that second, I shot him, two times in the forehead," he told Bronstein. "Bap! Bap! The second time as he's going down. He crumpled onto the floor in front of his bed. He was dead. I watched him take his last breaths. And I remember as I watched him breathe out the last part of air, I thought: Is this the best thing I've ever done, or the worst thing I've ever done?"

A spokeswoman for Esquire told Yahoo! News that the magazine did not pay the SEAL for the interview.

Related stories:

Navy SEAL Team Six Author Reveals More Details of bin Laden Raid in First Interview

Bin Laden Navy SEAL Raid Reflects Tradition of Grit, Secrecy

Pentagon Issues Employee Gag Order on 'No Easy Day'

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