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Esquire Initially Left VA Health Care Out Of Online Version Of Navy SEAL Story

Esquire came under criticism by military affairs paper Stars and Stripes for wrongly claiming the Navy SEAL who killed bin Laden was denied health care, a claim Esquire vigorously pushed back against. Esquire claims it mentions this in the story, but a cached version of the online article indicates otherwise.

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Here is what Star and Stripes wrote:

Esquire magazine claims "The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden ... Is Screwed."

The story details the life of the Navy SEAL after the successful raid to take out the No. 1 terrorist, and it asserts that once the SEAL got out of the military he was left to fend for himself.

" is what he gets from his employer and a grateful nation:

Nothing. No pension, no health care, and no protection for himself or his family."

Except the claim about health care is wrong. And no servicemember who does less than 20 years gets a pension, unless he has to medically retire.

Like every combat veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the former SEAL, who is identified in the story only as "the Shooter", is automatically eligible for five years of free healthcare through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Here is Esquire's aggressive response relating to VA benefits:

Now granted, "The Shooter" is a long story, lots of words to sort through, but McCloskey is wrong here. We refer her to this paragraph deeper in the piece: "There is a Transition Assistance Program in the military, but it's largely remedial level, rote advice of marginal value: Wear a tie to interviews, not your Corfam (black shiny service) shoes. Try not to sneeze in anyone's coffee. There is also a program at MacDill Air Force Base designed to help Special Ops vets navigate various bureaucracies. And the VA does offer five years of benefits for specific service-related claims—but it's not comprehensive and it offers nothing for the Shooter's family."


[Update] This sentence now appears in the Esquire piece, but does not specifically mention adding the VA benefits:

The headline of this piece has been updated to reflect the latest developments.

Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Andrew Kaczynski at

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