Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Doesn’t Shooting Osama bin Laden Deserve A Pension?

When I saw all the coverage regarding the U.S. Navy SEAL who shot and killed Osama bin Laden, I assumed we are in for some hyperbole. But I soon realized that what he is now experiencing what I have been writing about for some time, and what was the inspiration in writing Unwanted Heroes.

Heroes Low Res Finished Cover 11.18

The former SEAL who is identified as The Shooter’ claims in an interview with Esquire, that the U.S. government has abandoned him since he left the military last fall. His drive to spotlight how some of the U.S. military’s most accomplished soldiers are treated once they return to civilian life, is sad and a shame. He received no money for the interview.

But I wish to stress that whether you killed the world’s most-wanted terrorist or were any other cog in our huge military machine the issues of pension, health care, and protection for himself and his family, are the same. 

“…my health care 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.”

It seems like the military did not appreciate “The Shooter” leaving the military four years  before the 20-year requirement for retirement benefits. They invested considerable time and money into training him and could have expected a few more missions as the return on investment.

Esquire understands that “the government provides 180 days of transitional health care benefits, but the Shooter was ineligible because he did not agree to remain on active duty in a support role or become a “reservist.” The magazine optimistically suggests that his weight will be at least eight months, though we know this can be much longer.

The hyperbole surrounding this SEAL is important. Leveraging his status to highlight the way we fail our soldiers when they return is an opportunity no activist would turn away from. As I mentioned, I hope he receives what he needs and in a timely fashion. But I also hope it will serve all army veterans and their need for swift help transitioning into civilian life.

When a young man or woman makes the decision to serve his/her country, s/he and their family need to understand that their country will stand by them and not discard them as a resource on a conveyor belt.

—————————————————————————————————–

Alon Shalev writes social justice-themed novels and YA epic fantasy. He swears there is a connection. His latest books include: Unwanted Heroes and At The Walls Of Galbrieth. Alon tweets at @alonshalevsf and @elfwriter.  

Advertisements

Single Post Navigation

One thought on “Doesn’t Shooting Osama bin Laden Deserve A Pension?

  1. I wonder if this former Navy Seal went to the Veterans Administration. He may be qualified for medical care through the VA.

    The active military medical care system is different from the VA.

    The Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration are two different federal departments with different budgets.

    I am a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran and I came home from Vietnam in 1966 with PTSD. And I did not serve sixteen years as this former Navy Seal did.

    After being honorably discharged from the U.S. Marines, I went to college on the G.I. Bill, bought a house using the VA, and after college worked as a public school teacher for thirty years. When I retired from teaching in 2005, I left without any medical care—the fate of most teachers in the United States—but then I heard that I might be qualified for care through the VA. I applied and did qualify with a very low co-pay.

    The VA is now my preferred, full-time medical provider, forty-five years after I left the Marines in 1968.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: