Patterico's Pontifications


Is the Guy Who Shot Bin Laden Eligible for Health Care Coverage or Not?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:59 am


But the Shooter will discover soon enough that when he leaves after sixteen years in the Navy, his body filled with scar tissue, arthritis, tendonitis, eye damage, and blown disks, here 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.

. . . .

“I left SEALs on Friday,” he said the next time I saw him. It was a little more than thirty-six months before the official retirement requirement of twenty years of service. “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. You’re out of the service, your coverage is over. Thanks for your sixteen years. Go fuck yourself.”

It’s a neat piece, and I recommend it.

Now I am going to get us all bogged down in what might seem like a side issue, but is actually pretty central to the piece’s theme: are the claims of no health insurance accurate?

I can’t tell.

If you keep reading, it is clear that the claims of “nothing” are not completely accurate, even according to the piece itself:

The government does provide 180 days of transitional health-care benefits, but the Shooter is eligible only if he agrees to remain on active duty “in a support role,” or become a reservist. Either way, his life would not be his own. Instead, he’ll buy private insurance for $486 a month, but some treatments that relieve his wartime pains, like $120 for weekly chiropractic care, are out-of-pocket. 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.

It’s a great story, right? As Allahpundit said at the end of his post on the matter:

Exit question: How can the guy who shot Bin Laden not be eligible for military health insurance?

It appears that, as a returning veteran from one of our wars, he is eligible for five years of VA health care:

The 5-year enrollment period begins on the discharge or separation date of the service member from active duty military service, or in the case of multiple call-ups, the most recent discharge date.

The scope of that health care isn’t clear, so I have been reading further, trying to figure it out.

The detail about the five years of free coverage was pointed out at a blog at Stars and Stripes, who confronted the author about the omission. He defended it — wait for it — on the ground that there wasn’t space to explain this:

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.

But the story doesn’t mention that.

The writer, Phil Bronstein, who heads up the Center for Investigative Reporting, stands by the story. He said the assertion that the government gave the SEAL “nothing” in terms of health care is both fair and accurate, because the SEAL didn’t know the VA benefits existed.

“No one ever told him that this is available,” Bronstein said.

He said there wasn’t space in the article to explain that the former SEAL’s lack of healthcare was driven by an ignorance of the benefits to which he is entitled.

“That’s a different story,” Bronstein said in a phone interview with Stars and Stripes about what he omitted from the article.

Well, if that quote is accurate, it is distressing. It reminds me of when the L.A. Times printed an article claiming a guy was innocent of murder — and omitted the facts showing his guilt for space reasons. Journalists love to omit (or bury) facts that make their stories less sensational. It’s an unfortunate but common occurrence in Big Media.

Esquire printed a long defense of their piece and made the following claim:

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

Well, that certainly puts the Stars and Stripes blogger in her place!

Except . . .

Except that the claim does not appear to be true. That part in bold? It’s not in the piece.

I went to pull up the piece to see how they put this information in context, and (at least in the online version) it ain’t there. Here is the relevant passage in context:

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.

“It’s criminal to me that these guys walk out the door naked,” says retired Marine major general Mike Myatt. “They’re the greatest of their generation; they know how to get things done. If I were a Fortune 500 company, I’d try to get my hands on any one of them.” General Myatt, standing in the mezzanine of the Marines Memorial building he runs in San Francisco, is surrounded by so many Marine memorial plaques he’s had to expand the memorial around the corner due to so many deaths over the past eleven years of war.

The Esquire response makes other points about the scope of the coverage, but it’s tough to know whether to trust them, since they defend omitting information that is clearly critical for space reasons — and don’t even seem to know what’s in their own piece.

I’d still like to know the answer to this question.

All that said, the piece is pretty good overall, and I recommend it.

117 Responses to “Is the Guy Who Shot Bin Laden Eligible for Health Care Coverage or Not?”

  1. Greetings:

    You’ll have to forgive the author, Mr. Bronstein. He used to be the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle (aka SF Commicle) during which time he celebrated one of his birthday’s by having a Komodo Dragon chew on one of his legs.

    “Consider the source,” my mother used to say.

    11B40 (b0a091)

  2. Automatic 5 years of coverage for combat vets. The central tenet of their story was wrong. Now they are arguing since he didn’t know, their reporting was accurate.

    JD (b63a52)

  3. I also don’t think that a 20-year vet should have a taxpayer-provided pension. I think they should have a defined contribution plan just like any reasonable employer-supplied benefit plan. If you want a retirement nest egg, don’t over spend, save and invest wisely!

    harkin (5b72e8)

  4. I am a Vet, from a long time ago. Then, and I would think, at time of seperation you go through a process that explains All of your benifits. This for the Shooter would include the VA benifit. And, since his issues are service connected he should get lifetime benifits for those injures ( I could be wrong).

    lynndh (3b6dda)

  5. Harkin, you are a jerk. These people put their life on the line for you.

    lynndh (3b6dda)

  6. Bronstein may be liberal in his views but he did stand up to the Obama Administration.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  7. However, they should follow up on this story and correct it if it turns out the premise — that the Bin Laden shooter won’t get health care — is wrong.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  8. oh that was mr. sharon stone, no?

    happyfeet (4bf7c2)

  9. See Blackfive too:

    Somebody should connect a turbine to Michael Crichton’s casket right now, as he is spinning in his grave and saying, “Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect” (yes, i know)
    I saw a headline at Yahoo about “Bin Laden’s killer” being abandoned by the US govt., or some such. I didn’t bother reading it, assuming it wouldn’t be reliable…I should have realized it was at least a dishonest headline if not a dishonest article…

    It has been a long time since I have had direct involvement with the medical care of a vet or in the VA system, but I thought medical coverage for combat related injuries was lifelong.

    As the professor asked, “Just what do they teach in these schools today”? Apparently in journalism school they teach creative dishonesty.
    If I was independently wealthy, perhaps I would go to law school and file SLAPP suits for major episodes of journalism malpractice. (Since I am not, and doubt if I ever will be, if I ever become incarcerated, hopefully for justifiable civil disobedience and nothing else, I’ll take advantage of my legal resources.)

    If there is no respect for what is true, what good can come out of any discussion in the public square? It’s a waste of time at best.
    Whether the Ten Commandments are taken out of public display or not, they are being taken out of public observance pretty successfully. “Bearing false witness against your neighbor”, what fun can you have if you can’t do that!?!

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  10. The story claims that “Shooter” was separated from the Navy after 16-yrs of service: Why?
    Was he RIF’ed due to poor Performance Reviews?
    If so, his problems are on him.
    Was he discharged due to medical conditions resulting from his combat service:
    Then he should have been medically discharged, retaining his retirement pay and health-care.

    And for “harkin”, retired military do not receive a “pension”; they receive “retirement pay” and are subject to recall to active duty at the whim of the government, and that “pay” is graduated depending upon length of service. You get a 2.5% credit for each year of service, with a minimum of 50% (20-yrs service) to a maximum of 75% (30-yrs service). That doesn’t compare too favorably to what CA offers police and fire personnel in the 3-30 program, where you can retire (not subject to recall) after 30-yrs service with a 90% PENSION.

    Now, go back to DK and play with your blocks.

    askeptic (b8ab92)

  11. Comment by DRJ (a83b8b) — 2/12/2013 @ 9:22 am

    A good point, DRJ; but he only opposed Obama when it came to their threatening journalists, pretty self-serving.

    Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, and omitting information

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  12. The Esquire piece stinks on several levels.

    1)Something is being left out of the story of why this guy left the navy at 16 years rather than going the full 20 and getting a pension. He says he was burned out and didn’t love the job anymore. OK, fine – you mean to tell me that this SEAL with a sterling 16 year career wouldn’t have been able to finish out his time as a recruiter, an instructor, or some other low-stress job? I’m not buying it.

    2)Tying in with point 1 – the subject of the article acts as if he was blindsiding by the fact that he doesn’t rate a pension. Every single military member knows that you don’t get anything for leaving short of 20 years.

    3)Given his long list of serious physical ailments, he would have been screened for a disability rating before leaving active duty. Now, I’ve read that the VA is backlogged, but still, he’ll get his rating and his money before too long, as well as free treatment for said ailments at VA facilities.

    4)This guy is not some dopey 22 year old E-3. He was a senior petty officer in an elite force. You’re telling me he had no idea about his potential benefits and that he left the service without doing any planning or preparation? You’re telling me the SEALs do less for TAP than my little ol’ Marine squadron, which had VA reps with stacks of paperwork and brochures? You’re telling me that, as a senior NCO, this guy hasn’t advised junior sailors about their benefits when they EAS?

    The story is a bogus line of garbage pushed by a leftist writer in order to make the military look bad and to portray veterans as victims (when they aren’t barbaric war criminals, that is).

    radar (257ad5)

  13. Good Points, radar.

    askeptic (b8ab92)

  14. askeptic – citing California’s overly generous pension/retirement (whatever you want to call it) program isn’t a great way of defending the military’s program. The standard should be what is appropriate, not whether some other government employees get something better.

    For all: are you upset because it’s the ‘shooter’, or does your concern extend to all vets who leave service a few years before their 20? If the latter, should the exception be for just him… or should it also be for the others on the mission? What about those who helped make the mission possible?

    I also am skeptical that anyone leaving such a tight community wouldn’t know/have access to information regarding post-separation benefits. There aren’t a lot of closely kept secrets among the military.

    steve (369bc6)

  15. This is the same publication, that followed the Levick Grp script, that whitewashed the Gitmo detainees,

    narciso (3fec35)

  16. Sorry to rush through the above – just wanted to drop a line that his 5-year coverage is not the wonderful thing it seems.

    1. It drops his family entirely. They go naked and get nothing.

    2. It can and usually does become a “gotcha” beaurocratic nightmare; should he use any services, it can later be determined not to be service-related which means he’s on the hook for care unless he prevails in a series of appeals and hoops with delay and anxiety after delay and anxiety.

    3. Proving his injuries or illness becomes more difficult for special ops because of the classified nature of many of their operations. He was supposed to be directed for special processing of his benefits.

    4. He not only was not referred or provided assistance with regard to the VA benefits he is entitled to as a service member honorably discharged, he isnt’ getting the directed and accelerated review/processing of his disability that he is entitled to because of the nature of his service.

    Basically they did screw him and any long-term service that falls short of retirement (16 vs 20, in his case) has no transition period for entering back into civilian life. Maybe that does derserve some adjustment or looking at.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  17. Here’s one story talking about his case and the situation with benefits post-Esquire piece:

    SarahW (b0e533)

  18. As I’ve pointed out, Esquire, has shown it can discard the truth to fit it’s agenda, as for the CIR;

    narciso (3fec35)

  19. SarahW,
    I think the article you linked as corroborating the Esquire piece is from an organization that the author of the Esquire piece is part of.
    If that is indeed true, then the second article may not be as helpful as independent verification that we would like.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  20. SarahW,
    I looked it up (deciding not to be lazy-this time). The article you link is on this web site: Center for Investigative Reporting

    Also on this site we find:
    Phil Bronstein was named executive chair of the board of the Center for Investigative Reporting in April 2012, when the organization merged with The Bay Citizen. Bronstein joined the CIR board in 2006 and became board chair in 2011. He is now in charge of overall operations.

    So, the article you linked was written by someone who works for the guy who wrote the original article. That doesn’t mean that it is not all true (thgough I doubt it), but it does mean it is not an independent source, and that should probably be taken into account.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  21. HuffPo tired of journalistic malpractice also:

    Just because Gore sold his network to Al Jazeera, that doesn’t mean Palin will take a job there.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  22. SarahW,

    I don’t for one second believe your #4. Everyone goes through TAP when they process for discharge. I went through mine in March 2006. We received a bunch of information on the VA, the rating process, etc. Your #2 is incorrect as well – someone with 16 years in would have anything classified as service related, due to the fact that any non-service related condition would be aggravated and worsened by the rigors of military duty.

    Ultimately, the author lied. Blatantly, demonstrably lied. Oh, wait, I forgot, he didn’t have enough space to go through all of this in a 15,000 word article.

    Virtually every fellow veteran I know has thrown the bullshit flag on this piece. It doesn’t add up.

    radar (257ad5)

  23. The part about the family coverage being kaput, and the snake-bite process of using VA coverage (with retroactive dunning always an issue – and “service related” always in contention), and disability backlog is all real, independent of bias, though.

    The claims he was not put through the expedited handling, with the forwarding of his particular claims through the special processing they are supposed to receive, that will need independent confirmation.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  24. Steve – it seems people are bothered by the fact that Esquire basically lied.

    JD (5a02de)

  25. Well, that certainly puts the Stars and Stripes blogger in her place!

    Except . . .

    Except that the claim does not appear to be true. That part in bold? It’s not in the piece.

    It is in the piece. It’s in the printed version of the piece. Unfortunately, the editors took the sentence out of the online version (given the controversy, it is now back in).

    Explanation here.

    Kman (5576bf)

  26. It makes one wonder what else did they leave out,

    The notion, that they would allow themselves to be captured, and have Biden spring them, also seems a little fishy.

    narciso (3fec35)

  27. There was a time when an Honorable Discharge got you free health care for life from the V.A. That died a long time ago. (As did the free burial plot.) Now there are all sorts of conditions, circumstances, requirements, further limits, dependent qualifications, co-insurance and co-pays, and other obstacles to that care. Thank your Congress critter for this, they’re saving you money.

    I was treated by the V.A. for epilepsy (service connected disability, then, so free) for close to twenty years (even got transportation paid to Minneapolis from Mankato and back), ending about thirty years ago, and now I can’t even get them to recognize that I am a vet.

    There are parts of the V.A. system that provide very good health care to patients (not all of them do, those horror stories are mostly true, at least in part), but the parts that do the paying and collecting and administrating are more broken than ever.

    To describe the maze as “Kafkaesque” is reasonable. I doubt that the writers could understand it, even if they tried.

    You’d think that they could have found something for him to do for four years. Maybe there’s some calculus showing that his identity leaked and protecting him and his family would be expensive. Maybe 0 directed that he should be gently pushed out.

    htom (412a17)

  28. Comment by steve (369bc6) — 2/12/2013 @ 9:48 am

    Steve, I used the comparison not because I thought the military was being shafted, but to illustrate that their deal is not all that great when you look at what is in the market-place, and consider the risks that they assume.

    BTW, IIRC, the formula for GI retirement pay was set at least as far back as the Korean Conflict, perhaps earlier; though there have been many modifications of what bennies can be accessed.
    What I was told would be available to me “in twenty” in 1961, is not what is available to someone today.

    askeptic (b8ab92)

  29. Blackfive is comprised of special ops folks, and their primary allegience is to special ops folks and the military, not the repubs or dems. They don’t think it ads up. I suggest people check out the link I put in above, see comments from “the other side” as well.

    Kman, if you want to find reasons to trust a news source that makes major mistakes that mislead readers, feel free. I don’t have the time to find why to believe people who seem happy to mislead in the first place.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  30. I was treated by the V.A. for epilepsy (service connected disability, then, so free) for close to twenty years (even got transportation paid to Minneapolis from Mankato and back), ending about thirty years ago, and now I can’t even get them to recognize that I am a vet.
    Comment by htom (412a17) — 2/12/2013 @ 10:44 am

    Do you still have epilepsy (service connected) and can’t get care? or did the epilepsy resolve with time, and no longer having a service connected disability they discharged you from the system?

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  31. htom, the gov’t didn’t want to pay to protect the person and family of a LtCol on WH duty (Oliver North), why would they protect an NCO?

    But, if a Kongresskritter gets inconvenienced by a Capitol Hill cop, or a TSA agent…..Whoa Nellie!
    (but I always got a chuckle out of Teddy being on a No-Fly List – too bad MA didn’t put him on a No-Drive List)

    askeptic (b8ab92)

  32. Here’s where the smell test gets fetid

    narciso (3fec35)

  33. There are parts of the V.A. system that provide very good health care to patients (not all of them do, those horror stories are mostly true, at least in part), but the parts that do the paying and collecting and administrating are more broken than ever.
    To describe the maze as “Kafkaesque” is reasonable. I doubt that the writers could understand it, even if they tried

    And why again are we letting the same people, the federal government, take over even more of the medical system.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  34. Kman, if you want to find reasons to trust a news source that makes major mistakes that mislead readers, feel free.

    It misleads only if you cherry pick.

    Kman (5576bf)

  35. It’s a pretty big omission, that makes one doubt the point of the piece,

    narciso (3fec35)

  36. cherry pick

    It seems more like getting hit in the head with a 50+ pound breadfruit.

    Thanks narciso for that link as well, a little more annimated than the Blackfive site.

    Winter Soldier folk. Close cousins to the Bill Ayers crowd. The original about to become Sec. of State.
    Kafka will need to get placed in non-fiction.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  37. Wasn’t Kafka a How-To book?

    askeptic (b8ab92)

  38. the va only covers injuries and medical conditions that relate to military service. unless you are retired, or medically retired there is no actual coverage. family members are not seen at the va

    freedomcosts (7c3015)

  39. MD — My epilepsy seems to have “resolved”; there’s still no explanation of why. It was there. Most of my records from then seem now to have disappeared into the filing system, but there’s an ECC tracing. I just had a neuro workup to see if I could take stimulants for ADHD. (They can’t say yes or no and warned me of the consequences of mixing stimulants and potential epilepsy return.) ECC is not completely normal but shows no epiliform patterns. MRI and X-Rays show I have a big brain with less than the usual age shrinking. There is some vague scar tissue still; they (non-VA) say it’s not something to worry about, it’s not a tumor or anything else like that. If I begin having other neuro problems, they’ll have a recent baseline to work from. I haven’t decided on whether to try them or not. There are some new stimulants available that don’t seem to have quite the same effect on the seizure threshold, but there’s no testing for my age group and they’re not approved for ADHD yet anyway. Medicine is both science and art.

    Why the VA can find some but not all of my records, and another part of the VA claims that I’m not a vet at all … welcome to the VA. I’m sure there’s an explanation (or rationalization) that can be found. I’m just thankful I don’t NEED the VA to provide care.

    I don’t think you will find anyone who was ever in the military or a military dependent or an Indian Health Service patient who expects 0-care to be anything but a disaster. Many of us said that repeatedly before it was passed. People vote for dreams rather than reality, thinking “it can’t happen to me.”

    htom (412a17)

  40. I hope I don’t sound like a winter soldier person when I assert that the VA nitpicks and dickers over service related injuries, and patients end up having to fight owing costs retroactively challenged.

    To exaggerate is to weaken – they do no one a favor by exaggerating the soldier’s situation.

    Still it is true, this guy isn’t assured care at no cost – his family absolutely not, they get nothing. He is assured delay in evaluation of his benefit claims. The military does nickle and dime, and MAYBE its true he didn’t get much good advice. I wish soldiers who went above and beyond didn’t have to struggle so much when they serve a long time especially.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  41. It is in the piece. It’s in the printed version of the piece. Unfortunately, the editors took the sentence out of the online version (given the controversy, it is now back in).

    Explanation here.

    We already saw their explanation. In a 15,000 word piece, there wasn’t enough room for the section that refuted their premise.

    JD (5a02de)

  42. Esquire edits the article adding and deleting things but we are “cherry picking”.

    That’s the typical Kman logic in action.

    SPQR (768505)

  43. They could have done an investigation of the Tricare program, particularly in light of the ‘enlightened’ General Shinseki, heading the VA,
    whatever did happen there, but the intention from
    the outset, was to ‘dowderize’ the relevant facts.

    narciso (3fec35)

  44. Kman has spent too much time hanging out with Brett Kimberlin & Co.

    Elephant Stone (222050)

  45. As others mentioned above, OEF/OIF/ONA personnel who retire have medical benefits through the VA for 5 years after retirement but only for service-related injuries in the Iraq/Afghanistan theater. However, apparently retired personnel are not covered for routine medical care or for non-service-related health problems. In addition, I don’t know whether family members have medical benefits at all — unless the service member retired due to a medical injury. Anyone know whether family members of retired personnel who don’t retire because of a medical injury and have less than 20 years are covered by TRICARE or VA Benefits?

    Overall, it appears the only coverage in this situation would be for service-related injuries or health conditions for the service member. Nothing for other health problems or for the family. That may be the way it is for everyone and that may be all that we can afford to pay, but it does seem tough for personnel and family members who will always have targets on their backs.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  46. I think the general point of the article was that despite The Shooter’s many qualifications, his leadership skills, and his past accomplishments- he can’t put ANY of it on his resume. It’s like being qualified to be the CTO of Apple, but not being able to tell people about your qualifications. In that situation, he’s about as hireable as someone who hasn’t done anything for the past 15 years. There are bills to pay, health care costs being one of them, and not just for himself- but for his family too. Then the article goes on to talk about the risks his family is taking, thanks to VP Blabby Mouth and others in the Obama administration who have pretty much outed these guys and made them huge targets for terrorists.

    In that light, I’m not surprised they didn’t go into details regarding the health care coverage. The point of the article is that these guys sacrifice a lot for their country, and then when their service is over, they’re sort of just left hanging. Without even any sort of protection against threats from outside forces. It IS ridiculous.

    On a side-side note: I don’t consider VA healthcare after military service too much of a helper. My husband is a disabled vet and, let me tell you, the VA hospitals SUCK. BAD. It’s one of the reasons I’m so against the government being involved in healthcare on an level- even on the “coverage” end. I’ve seen what they did with their own military system. It disgusts me. They have proven already that they are incompetent.

    Book (12be79)

  47. Book – I agree. They should have made that point.

    JD (5a02de)

  48. I’m skeptical about the entire Esquire piece. God bless our veterans, but don’t believe anything in that article.

    gp (5a38d9)

  49. “The writer, Phil Bronstein, who heads up the Center for Investigative Reporting, stands by the story. He said the assertion that the government gave the SEAL “nothing” in terms of health care is both fair and accurate, because the SEAL didn’t know the VA benefits existed.”

    I say, “Horse shit.” Whether you retire or simply ETS, there is a lot of transition aid – including classes about your benefits – available. And anyone past his first reenlistment knows that, unless you get medically retired, 20 years of active duty is the point where you get your full benefits.

    Jay Stevens (b5e29f)

  50. DRJ, Shooter didn’t retire. He separated. Or was separated; I don’t know if it by his choice or involuntary on his part. I strongly suspect the latter.

    There is a huge difference between separating and retiring. Essintially when you separate you are no longer a service member.

    When you retire you are a service membet for the rest of your life. In the Navy and Marines enlisted personnel who retire with 20 or more years of service but less than 30 transfer to the Fleet Reserve. Their pay is retainer pay. Enlisted retirees with 30 years of service including in the Fleet Reserve transfer to the retired list. Then they get retired pay and are referred to as retired members.

    Warrant and commissioned officers are retired members as soon as they leave active duty.

    The law provides that any retiree can be involuntarily recalled. Retirees are categorized according to status as I, II, or III. I’m not 100% sure about cat but cat I is under 60 and 5 years of retirement, while cat III is over 60. I believe cat II is under 60 but more than 5 years retired. It’s highly unlikely you’ll be involuntarily recalled if you’re cat II and almost zero for cat III. It doesn’t mean they won’t ask for volunteers. There were a bunch of 70 and 80 y.o.s on the battleships they brought out mothball teaching the young guys how to work and maintain those WWII boilers.

    Point is Shooter has no further obligations since he has separated. I’m surprised he didn’t know what benefits he did qualify for as they send separating members to a class teach them among other things exactly that.

    Steve57 (e0237b)

  51. designed to help Special Ops vets navigate various bureaucracies.

    Ummm. Not to dispute or argue with the gist of the piece or anything, but…

    These guys were right smack in the middle of one of the biggest bureaucracies in all of human history.

    I realize they are/were focused on SEAL duties, but… they learned NOTHING of how to negotiate a bureaucracy?

    In 20 years? This seems rather… doubtful in itself.

    Smock Puppet, 10th Dan Snark Master and Burlesque Entertainer (98ae1f)

  52. Smock Puppet, in my experience that budweiser they wear on their chest cuts through a lot of red tape for them.

    Steve57 (08bc52)

  53. If he’s wasting $120 a week on a chiropractic “care,” he might not be making the most educated health care choices.

    carlitos (4e532b)

  54. This is supposed to explain the problem, according to Stars and Stripes.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  55. Also, there are some differences between his acocunt of the dath of bin Laden and others.

    The Shooter’s account differs from other descriptions of bin Laden’s death and contradicts some statements by Matt Bissonnette, another member of Navy SEAL Team 6. In his book, “No Easy Day,” Bissonnette said he stood directly behind the SEAL team’s point man when the point man shot bin Laden.

    According to the Shooter, the point man took a shot or two at bin Laden when bin Laden peeked around a curtain in the hallway a floor above them, but even after that the terrorist leader was still standing and moving. The point man was not in the room when bin Laden was killed, the Shooter said, because he had tackled two women into the hallway, believing they were wearing suicide vests.

    “It was the most heroic thing I’ve ever seen,” he said.

    Addressing the differences, CIR Executive Director Robert J. Rosenthal said: “The Shooter’s version of events is not the only one out there. But we believe his version of events is the most credible.”

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  56. I got out in 2012 and just missed the TERA program by a couple of years. However, this guy should have been eligible for it.
    Basically if you have more then 15yrs active duty and a clean record (is no nonjudicial punishment, or for the civilian lawyers basically a prohibition record) and be auto enrolled into the REDUX retirement plan. At its height REDUX offers cash lump sum and 40% of the highest pay achieved in the last three yrs of active service. Under TERA the lump sum goes away and instead of 40% its downgraded to 25-30%; but you can earn your way back to the higher prevents via time drilling as an Individual Inactive Reservists or an active reservists. So a 16yr in member who didn’t know about this was full of it because TERA has been out for a full yrs now and there isn’t many denials for requests.

    Charles (913a6b)

  57. 5:24 PMLANow @LANowDorner reportedly crashed truck & exchanged gunfire with officers as he fled into another cabin, now surrounded

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  58. Remember, Dorner wants to preserve his brian for science, so he won’t want to take a head shot.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  59. Don’t worry Sammy. Judging by the way these officers have been riddling the wrong make, model, and color pick-up trucks with dozens of bullets without killing the slim white guys or elderly to middle aged hispanic women inside (but no one near Dorner’s description) there’s no one around that cabin who can make a head shot.

    Except by accident.

    Steve57 (5374a9)

  60. Sounds like be is getting burned in the cabin?

    JD (b63a52)

  61. He should get used to that.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  62. If one wants to make the argument that we could do more for vets, I’m happy to agree. But people who know a lot more than me in the military say that the story doesn’t add up. The writer has a history of misleading articles, and runs with the Winter Soldier crowd (unlike SarahW, who does not).

    That said, there are others who claim they have been abandoned by the military, and we have their names, and even some of their pictures with the FLOTUS at the 2010 SOTU.

    They are suing to get better benefits than they currently are getting as having suffered “workplace violence”.

    I would never think that the two stories being in the news at the same time were at all related, except the knowledge that truth is stranger than fiction, and a lot of things have happened I never would have thought of…
    like inviting illegal aliens to be guests at the SOTU, getting the requirement waived to give their SS number….

    Isn’t there some issue about the President having taken an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the land? The Sergeant at Arms should have Obama arrested and led out.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  63. Two other things:

    1) anecdotes are only good as an example of what can happen, not what does happen-
    but my anecdote concerns an extended family member who was actually with the NSA while the family though he was with a branch of the service (boy, his assignment was changed a lot!). When he parted, he was offered a job through military/intelligence connections that normally would have required an advanced degree (post bachelors) which he did not have. But his skill set was known by the connections involved and he got the job anyway-
    so I’m not sure the fellow, if he actually exists and did the interview, was as hard up for job offers as it is claimed.

    2) Comment by htom (412a17) — 2/12/2013 @ 11:20 am
    Thanks for the clarification. Your situation is consistent with what I thought was true about service related conditions.
    Something in the injury/scar tissue originally was a “hot spot” to set off seizures. With time, the tissue healed in a way that no longer gave off the kind of signals that caused seizures.
    The last time I had reason to know, the law was that a doctor’s office had to maintain records for at least 7 years. I don’t know if it was different for hospitals or what the standards are now. I am not surprised, really, that they can’t find your records from 20-30 years ago. I bet a lot of hospitals can’t. Even if they could, they are probably off site at some archival storage company, with another possible link of confusion.
    Hopefully you have a good doc for your ADHD issues. Yes, some of the known treatments may lower seizure threshold, and as you know there is little way to predict just what that would mean without trying them. There are some older meds that do not have FDA approval for ADHD but which are sometimes used and don’t have such risks. Obviously I wouldn’t begin to give specific advice, I just hope you have someone who knows “all the tricks” of the art and science.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  64. I’m … concerned but not worried. Strattera just isn’t getting the job done. I don’t want to (and won’t) go back to the half-gallon and more of strong coffee and three packs of cigarettes a day that I used for two decades. My GP has collected a half-dozen MD’s working up recommendations (some kind of tag-team thing where they are using an internal wiki; neurologist, a university ADHD drug researcher, brain injury specialist, therapists, an ADHD specialist.) They seem to love my questions. “If you were only a doctor instead of an engineer this would be easier to explain, but then we would not even think of doing that so we don’t really know. Got another strange thing to make me really think today?”

    “Elderly”, ADHD, former epileptic … I’m not unique, we’re just not much studied, yet. By asking questions maybe I’ll inspire research. More and more of us are surviving. Those a generation later will have things easier. (They already do, just as the epileptics do.)

    Thanks for caring. I think that may be one of the very best kinds of medical treatment.

    htom (412a17)

  65. Caffeine tablets are what I use (200 mg 3-4 x/day)…my stomach can’t handle that much coffee.
    guanfacine is an old BP med that is sometimes used that i don’t think has seizure issues, but would need to look it up
    bupropion is an antidepressant that a psych friend has had great success with for ADHD on some patients, but it has a seizure issue- not sure if dose related-could ask about it along with the guanfacine
    A cardiologist friend of mine stated once that no study had ever been done in medicine with more than 4 different drugs at once, so every patient with a combination of things needing more than 4 drugs is a bit of “uncharted territory”
    – hey, a thought, If cigarettes worked for you, maybe a nicotine patch and/or nicotine gum- safer and probably cheaper than cigarettes-ask your doc

    and it sounds like you do have good and concerned docs that go to work on your behalf. happy to offer anything that might be helpful

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  66. I’ve seen reports that nicotine is good for some gut problems (like ulcerative colitis), although it may be bad for other gut problems like Crohn’s Disease. I’ve always wondered if nicotine patches might help other gut and especially immune problems.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  67. The idea that he didnt know about the benefits is laughable.

    Also, not mentioned in the fiction peice is that Iraq and A-stan vets go to the front of the line for VA disability determinations. I put in my VA benefits packet in Feb/March of 2009 and got my rating by the end of April. He would be in a similar position.

    SGT Ted (506d69)

  68. Like many women who saved up vacation time for extra maternity leave time, vets have used “terminal leave” when planning their GETTING OUT!. You can save up to 30 days in your leave bank. You play the “use or lose” game at year end, but it is always in your mind that that 30 days is what you will use when you get out. You can leave the service, but your pay and benefits continue for the next 30 days as if you are on leave/vacation. You can even start another job within that time. The military gives you outprocessing days in addition to that. They will even move you household goods (once) to another location for up to 2 years after you left. At least this was how it was 7 years ago, when we left.

    Karen (70ece5)

  69. 3. Proving his injuries or illness becomes more difficult for special ops because of the classified nature of many of their operations. He was supposed to be directed for special processing of his benefits.

    Not true.

    His DD 214 would show his combat service in each nation he served in and his special warfare service, airborne school etc etc. These are considered “presumptive” by the VA for a host of ailments, his own included, that he would not have to have “classified” documents to back it up.

    The article is a steaming pile hit piece.

    SGT Ted (506d69)

  70. Thanks SGT Ted for your comments. Those of us without direct experience of the military rely on your info, and what you say goes along with what I’ve read at Blackfive and ThisAintHell.

    For the masses of those who don’t know better the story fits the narrative of “stupid, uneducated soldier being taken advantage of by the evil oppressive US government”. I assume an elite special ops member with 16 years of service is not dumb (the few I’ve known in the past certainly were not).

    I’m sure there are aspects of the support system for the military and ex-military that are inadequate, but then incompetence is not confined to the military either.

    And as others have said, it is possible that the reporter was lead on. I’ve known people who have made up stories about being in special ops when the were kicked out of regular army. I think the saying is that there are more SEALS in bars on Friday night than were ever in the service.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  71. But the military acknowledged he was supposed to get the different routing/processing of his claims. By implication the different process exists, and he is qualified for it.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  72. Are you saying there is no “special track for disability claims that the Department of Veterans Affairs set up for Special Forces veterans in 2009″?

    Is it false that “if a veteran files a disability claim based on involvement in a secret mission, VA claims examiners are supposed to turn files over to a special liaison at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., where Special Operations Command is located.”

    SarahW (b0e533)

  73. Because this isn’t from Esquire:

    SarahW (b0e533)

  74. That blurb about the program contains this line (though obviously from a few years ago) “Though the liaison has been in place for nearly a year, the program is widely unknown.”

    Maybe the veteran is just out of the loop, and/or a liason has not been deemed necessary. Perhaps, the clerking machinery is just grinding so slow they haven’t even begun to evaluate his claim. Or, perhaps, the clerking machinery didn’t realize they ought to forward his claim.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  75. Here’s another story about the special liason in the Army Times:

    SarahW (b0e533)

  76. Like I said, even if a special track exists, it isn’t the clusterfuck to get benefits as portrayed in this article.

    A DD214 is a DD 214, regardless of who issues it. The VA uses a DD 214 alone as presumptive to awards benefits, sans medical records backing it up.

    A DD214 would simply show his SF quals, schools like Airborne, etc, his tours to A-stan and Iraq in a general fashion. That is all the VA needs for him to qualify for benefits for a pile of ailments. But, he has to apply.

    Any classified items or awards would really have nothing to do with it. The reporter is, at best, confusing the two issues.

    SGT Ted (506d69)

  77. For instance, I have a Combat Action Badge. This is presumptive for PTSD. All I had to do was spell out that we were rocketed, mortared and shot at and describe when and where it happened in the VA benefits app. No additional records needed.

    This is why I smell a rat. It doesn’t match reality.

    SGT Ted (506d69)

  78. FWIW, which might not be much, I think I read a little while back they have become much stricter with that (PTSD – so many diagnoses they came up with a PSTD “light” that is not compensated the same way), not that I would really know.

    Do you think it would be different for eye-damage, or skeletal injuries, the sort of things alluded to in the Esq article?

    SarahW (b0e533)

  79. Comment by SGT Ted (506d69) — 2/13/2013 @ 8:52 am

    The “rats” in the media are fond of creating their own reality – the truth be damned!

    askeptic (b8ab92)

  80. To clarify my position, FWIW, I know the author of the Esquire article is coming from a very biased point of view and has a history of biased writing. I know many things in the article are called into question by military blog sites that are not interested in covering for the VA, but do want their situations reportedly “fairly”. The supposed source is anonymous, those disputing the accounts are not anonymous yet many have many tours of special ops duty. With those major problems, I don’t think it is worth trying to sift through the article to find out what is true.

    About nicotine- I looked at the link. Nicotine does bind to subsets of acetylcholine receptors, hence has direct effect on various aspects of the nervous system and could effect GI motility and certain GI symptoms. How nicotine has effects on forms of inflammatory bowel disease is beyond my speculation, let alone knowledge.
    I do know it has beneficial effects as a stimulant for ADHD and probably many people who use tobacco products do so in part as ADHD self-treatment (whether they realize it or not). When I looked into it a few years ago, nicotine was one (about the only one, along with caffeine) ADHD related drug that was not banned from serious athletic competition. IDK if that has changed.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  81. SGT Ted – Any speculation on the hidden agenda here? I mean, besides the general “war is dangerous for puppies and kittens and other living things” ethos?

    PTSD has become such a football.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  82. The fact that ‘the Winter Soldiers’ are involved, does not inspire confidence in the whole enterprise.

    narciso (3fec35)

  83. I thought I posted a comment a while ago, but I don’t see it.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  84. Now I see my comment at #78 of 81 (prior to this comment), but not listed on the scroll or in the total # count.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  85. The agenda doesn’t seem very hidden, but is right out here in the open.

    It’s just another of the “helpless veteran victim of the Man” sob sister stories. It has all the tropes of that narrative.

    Couple that with ignorance of the actual process and you get this story with huge gaping holes. The press rarely gets these things right when they report on them, simply because they lack knowlege of the community and the bureaurocracies and the rules.

    The only reason for any difficulty establishing the origin of an injury while on classified missions would be it being designated as “combat related” which opens up other benefits. But even that category is a grey area and some training injuries qualify for combat related designations because of the uniqueness of the training.

    SGT Ted (506d69)

  86. The special ops guys do have the special liason for veterans having difficulty proving their injuries because of the nature of their missions, though. That part is real.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  87. The special ops guys…

    This isn’t a criticism. To the rest of the known world “Spec Ops” means some gunfighter going in to a hostage situation.

    In the Navy it just means “Diver.” As in Salvage or EOD.

    And I guess the SeaBee Underwater Construction Team divers which I didn’t find out about until I got involved in a “relationship” with a Seabee girl who looked really, really good in a thong.

    In the nav if you’re looking for the snake-eating take no prisoner type killers they’re SpecWar.

    Just something to keep in mind when working the phone matrix.

    Steve57 (60a887)

  88. Nicotine is probably going to turn into a miracle drug one of these days. In its current form, not so good for older folk, as it’s a vasoconstrictor. It has been tested in patch form for ADHD (very small study) and found effective. I’m sure there are research chemists playing with it now, trying to remove that blood flow problem (and probably making another.)

    htom (412a17)

  89. Well he’s a SEAL, or DEVGroup as their new designation is,

    narciso (3fec35)

  90. Yeah, narciso, he’s a member of our elite group of warriors who consist entirely of washed-out aviators who never bothered to get warfare qualified.

    I think I saw a movie about that outfit back when Vietnam was winding down involving bikers.

    Washed out aviators. Bikers. Same thing. Ride to Live. Live to Ride.

    Steve57 (60a887)

  91. I am Army so I use spec ops as a generic term for SF types.

    SGT Ted (506d69)

  92. I thought he shot Bin Laden in the head.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  93. 88. I am Army so I use spec ops as a generic term for SF types.

    Comment by SGT Ted (506d69) — 2/13/2013 @ 3:25 pm

    And you are right to do so.

    I’m just saying that I knew it was time to get out when I was assigned to a joint command. I arrived at my cubicle with an AF officer I was working with at the time. She pointed at the post-it note someone left on my terminal and said “what the hell is that?”

    If I recall it began with “LT, PSM ASAP R.E.” and continued in the same vein until it ended “V/R, BM1.”

    It was all perfectly decipherable navy-speak. I knew that. Consequently I told her it was a sign I had already stayed in too long.

    Steve57 (60a887)

  94. Here’s what I can’t reconcile. The article emphasizes his need for medical services – this, that and the other thing is wrong with him right now.

    I thought the Seals were a collection of men in very top physical condition. One year out from the Abbottabad mission and he needs weekly chiropactor treatments, and is waiting for his disability paperwork to be processed. How the hell do we send a DISABLED Seal to shoot Bin Laden?

    Mike S (f19552)

  95. They are still insisting on the omission;

    narciso (3fec35)

  96. 91. I thought the Seals were a collection of men in very top physical condition. One year out from the Abbottabad mission and he needs weekly chiropactor treatments, and is waiting for his disability paperwork to be processed. How the hell do we send a DISABLED Seal to shoot Bin Laden?

    Comment by Mike S (f19552) — 2/13/2013 @ 4:22 pm

    All that “physical conditioning” takes a toll on one’s body.

    I blew out my shoulders just trying to get in. Now at 50 I’m glad I didn’t as I can still walk and have no blown discs.

    Steve57 (60a887)

  97. 91. How the hell do we send a DISABLED Seal to shoot Bin Laden?

    Comment by Mike S (f19552) — 2/13/2013 @ 4:22 pm

    I’d be surprised if I could find a SEAL who wasn’t concealing an injury.

    Steve57 (60a887)

  98. I’m sure there are research chemists playing with it now, trying to remove that blood flow problem (and probably making another.)
    Comment by htom (412a17) — 2/13/2013 @ 2:41 pm

    In a perfect world (one day) there is no illness. In a near perfect world every illness is treated with one little pill with no side effects.
    Since we aren’t close to that, when push comes to shove sometimes you do have to treat a problem, then treat the side effects with something else, if in the big scheme of things it is worth it.
    If you can’t find something else for the ADHD, and it is troublesome enough, I would ask your doc about using nicotine patch/gum and something else for the BP if it is an issue.
    Maybe nicotine and guanfacine both for ADHD with their side effects cancelling out. (If you ever use guanfacine, do not stop it abruptly!!)

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  99. Thanks again, MD. I have an appointment next week to find out if and what they’ve settled on as a recommendation, and I’ll ask if they thought of this (I can’t think of any other reason that guanfacine would look familiar, but can’t access that wiki except there.) Caffine tabs and a low level nicotine patch might be another way to go, too. In some ways, an embarrassment of riches; when I was born, there were none. I could have much worse problems.

    htom (412a17)

  100. Why does this guy want government health care? Didn’t somebody tell him that sucks?

    DaveM (af44c3)

  101. htom
    A quick search found this:

    From the article:
    GIR, like clonidine, can have a withdrawal syndrome with abrupt cessation. Symptoms include increased blood pressure, headache, tremor, restlessness, and nausea. This is rare, approximately 3% compared to 50%–80% with clonidine. The difference in the withdrawal rates may be explained by guanfacine’s longer half-life. Most subjects have mild sympathetic hyperactivity

    Guanfacine is one of the few meds that actually has a rebound worsening of BP and symptoms if you suddenly stop it without weaning it off. Years ago when I was taking it, I had a bad stomach virus and missed a few doses. I didn’t appreciate at the time this property (not as common or well known as with clonidine), and was feeling very “keyed up” in a most unpleasant way.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  102. The Bin Laden shooter went to Congress today to ask for more assistance for special operations forces. This makes sense to me for a couple of reasons. First, the demands on these personnel and their families seem greater than other forces. Second, the extra monetary rewards might encourage more people to consider a special forces career. Given that Democratic leaders are pushing America toward more covert operations, I think we’ll need more people willing to serve in these careers.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  103. Why does this guy want government health care? Didn’t somebody tell him that sucks?

    Comment by DaveM (af44c3) — 2/14/2013 @ 4:56 am

    One wonders if DaveM doesn’t grasp the point, or is just trying to miss it.

    JD (805f82)

  104. DRJ- I don’t know if you have looked at blackfive or thisainthell. All of the military types are saying the Esquire story doesn’t make sense, and the author of the original piece is a Winter Soldier collaborator, which means in my mind I wouldn’t believe them to tell me it’s raining even if I felt water on my head, FWIW.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  105. I think we’ll need more people willing to serve in these careers.
    Comment by DRJ (a83b8b) — 2/14/2013 @ 10:11 am

    If “they” want that, they need to protect them (Benghazi), and keep their mouths shut (SEAL Team 6 helicopter shot down).

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  106. There are many different levels of military med-care.
    Front-line troops probably receive the best available.
    When you’re finally reduced to relying on the VA, witch-doctors may be a viable alternative.

    askeptic (b8ab92)

  107. I’ve read some of that, MD, and I’m not discounting it. But sometimes it’s a little like hazing, where people who have endured a certain lifestyle feel like everyone who follows should also endure it. There are benefits to traditions but I’m worried good candidates who are willing to endure hardship themselves will refuse billets in special operations/forces because of the hardship on their families. I’d like to avoid that if we can afford it.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  108. Have you ever known someone in special forces, DRJ?

    Those I’ve known weren’t even talkers, let alone complainers. I think their main concerns are being allowed to do their job and not have their efforts wasted by Washington BS.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  109. I read the Esquire article you linked to, DRJ. With my little knowledge about it, none of the complaints sound new compared to 1980’s. Family sometimes not even knowing what side of the planet their loved ones are on, secrecy/anonymity maintained even among other military without adequate security clearance.

    Things like the administration cooperating with publicity of their missions and compromising secrecy of operations is what really tics them off, from what I can tell.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  110. See here’s the thing, Esquire actually has a correspondent, Mockenhaupt, who served in Iraq, who has good military contacts, and is relatively fair.

    narciso (3fec35)

  111. Comment by narciso (3fec35) — 2/14/2013 @ 11:45 am

    With that background, he’s obviously not qualified to write about any member of ST-6.
    To do that, one has to be a lifelong Lefty.

    askeptic (b8ab92)

  112. Comment by narciso (3fec35) — 2/14/2013 @ 11:45 am

    So, you’re saying that if Esquire wanted to do a respectable piece of journalism they could have asked a guy with military experience and cred to do it, instead of somebody linked with Winter Soldier and looking to find the “truth” from Berkeley?

    I may be wrong, but another piece with more unnamed characters (“9 influential senators”) seems to me like double-down on the first piece of misleading reporting.

    I’m sure there are things that could be done to improve our care for the military, like making our troop size larger not smaller, so people don’t need to go on as many deployments and force extended use of reserves. But this still sounds like a “pity the poor idiot who can’t get things straight, abused by our government even though he supposedly is a 16 year vet of one of history’s elite fighting forces” story.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  113. As a vet, trying to figure out what you’re eligible for and what you’re not, is far from easy. I’m reading a great book right now that I think would help a lot of people out there, Vets or family members, who are trying to figure out the VA system or who are trying to find out what kind of benefits they are eligible for. The book is called “Crack the VA” by Barbara Steinberg. You can check out her site and the book at As far as whether this SEAL is eligible for benefits or not, I guess depends on who you are and how you look at it. Some say if he had just stayed until his 20 years were up, he wouldn’t have this issue. Others say that regardless, he should be entitled to something considering all he’s done. I personally am on the fence.

    Jason Adams (744857)

  114. #45 yes after at least 20 year retirement, family members do get to keep tricare, or at least we did, not sure what is going to happen with obamacare.

    freedomcosts (7c3015)

  115. Update: Commander not only (link) says the guy definitely knew what he was and wasn’t going to get as a result of leaving before his 20 but was offered chance to stay in until then.

    steve (e7e6c7)

  116. Now the shooter’s plight, may be real or not, but this certainly is;

    narciso (3fec35)

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