Actually, the Man Who Shot Bin Laden Can Get Free Health Care

Elspeth Reeve
The Atlantic Wire

McCloskey asked Bronstein, What about the VA? "No one ever told him that this is available," Bronstein said, adding there wasn't space in the 15,000-word article to explain the Shooter didn't have health care because he didn't know about the benefits he qualified for. But part of the story would seem to contradict this. Bronstein writes:

Who takes so long adjudicating veterans' disability claims? The Department of Veterans Affairs. While the military has long been criticized for not doing enough to help veterans transition into civilian life, when you are processing out of the military, there are classes that explain what your obligations and benefits are. It's called the Transition Assistance Program. Here's a sample sentence from one of the many sites that talk about TAP: "This improved transition program covers employment skills transferability (MOC Crosswalk), financial health and resiliency; it offers a brand new employment workshop, VA eBenefits registration, and much more." 

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(There are other potential problems in the story. The Shooter talks about how the CIA analyst portrayed in Zero Dark Thirty was "a tough woman," and Bronstein says the Shooter gave her "the magazine from his rifle with all but three lethally spent bullets left in it." But we know the character is a composite — and at least partially based on a dude. And usually the military keeps a pretty tight check on weapons and ammunition. Maybe it's different for special forces?)

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Maybe the Shooter didn't take those classes, maybe he slept through them, maybe he has no Navy buddies to help him out on Facebook, maybe when he filed his disability claim, no one told him about his other benefits. The Shooter told Bronstein as much: "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 sixteen years. Go fuck yourself." But this is another moment when it's clear what a small percentage of the population goes to war — and how few of those people write things on the Internet for a living, liberal and conservative alike. Many news sites picked up Bronstein's story and made the health benefits a cause. "Navy SEAL lost health insurance after killing Osama bin Laden," The Washington Post said. "SEAL WHO ALLEGEDLY SHOT AND KILLED BIN LADEN REVEALS STUNNING NEW DETAILS ABOUT THE RAID — AND YOU WON’T BELIEVE HOW HE SAYS THE GOV’T HAS TREATED HIM SINCE" blared The Blaze's headline. Maybe we shouldn't have.

Like many vets, he will have to wait at least eight months to have his disability claims adjudicated. Or even longer. The average wait time nationally is more than nine months, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting.