With a movie about the killing of Osama Bin Laden up for an Oscar, it may feel like the death of a terrorist has turned from an American triumph into an American money-making scheme. Except for this: the member of SEAL Team 6 known to the world only as the "Shooter" for taking the kill shot that downed the world's most wanted terrorist has come out now to tell his side of the story. The Shooter is broke.
He doesn't have a military pension. He can't get a job. He doesn't even get government health insurance.
This is the life of an American hero. So how could this happen?
According to an explosive Esquire interview with the man referred to only as the Shooter to protect himself, his wife, and his two kids, the Navy SEAL responsible for putting a bullet in Osama bin Laden's head left the military 36 months shy of getting his pension. It was an honorable discharge, but it was early all the same.
Ah. That explains it. Or does it?
This is a man who risked death to take out America's enemy number one. And today Americans are asking the same question: isn't he due some sort of thank-you?
The answer isn't clear cut. Hundreds of thousands of men and women have risked their lives for America, and they are subject to the same military rules about pensions and health benefits as the Shooter. Prioritizing one man over another would hardly be fair. All who serve are to be valued, period.
And yet, none of them should be in the position the Shooter is in today. None should be struggling to pay expensive health insurance bills, wondering how to find a job, fearing for the live of their families (because despite their high profile assignment, no protection is offered to them).
What makes the Shooter's plight something to talk about today is not what in particular he did while in the military at all. It's the question it poses for all members of the armed forces and for the government that employs them.
The United States takes control of these people's lives for a certain period of time, and at the end, this country cannot simply cut them loose. Be it an elite operative of a Navy SEAL Team involved in one of the most important battles against terrorism of our times or private first class who never left American soil, they answer the call to serve.
The least we can do for their service is help them land safely on the other side.
What do you think should be done for the Shooter? What about other retired members of our military?
Image via FBI