On second thought, the man who shot Bin Laden does have free health care, sort of

Turns out, contra Esquire, he gets five years of military coverage gratis after leaving the service. It’s just for him, not for his wife or kids, and he gets no pension because he didn’t serve 20 years — no exceptions made for elite units that specialize in hyper-dangerous missions. But yes, for the moment he’s covered. Let the record stand corrected.

More from Esquire, which is clearly peeved at having a key detail of their big scoop exposed as an exaggeration:

[W]hile the Shooter may be eligible for some direct benefits from the VA, his wife and two children are eligible for nothing. Not to get too deeply into the philosophy of insurance and the distribution of risk, but that means that under the best scenario, the Shooter is 1/4 covered, which of course means that he is not covered at all. It would be like having a 1/4 roof during a storm. Your house still fills with water. What good does it do the man if he can go to a government chiropractor for his neck when (heaven forbid) his child could get sick and wipe out the family? It is a simple fact that when your family doesn’t have healthcare, you don’t have healthcare…

Sources from the VA tell us that only 40% of eligible veterans use the benefits, because, as was the case with the Shooter, they aren’t aware the benefits exist. The same VA source lamented this fact and wondered why veterans aren’t automatically enrolled, saying that “it would be a nice service for soldiers….if benefits were explained.” As for the VA benefit itself, it is fairly liberal where it sets the “service-related claims” bar, but there are vagaries about what is covered and what isn’t, what requires payment and what doesn’t, illnesses versus accidents, etc. The same VA source said that for instance, “if a veteran had other insurance and [the claim] was non-service connected,the VA would not cover it. There are also a bunch of other stipulations that come into play that affect our ability to pay or not pay.” And in the magazine’s reporting on the subject, one thing has become clear – many veterans, veteran advocates, and VA officials we spoke with did not display a well-informed grasp of the benefit.

Esquire claims that the print version of the article mentions that the Shooter is eligible for five years of coverage, but that detail was mysteriously omitted from the online version and then quietly reinserted once the controversy started bubbling last night. Since when do online versions of articles, which aren’t bound by space constraints, shorter than their print counterparts? And if the print version mentions the caveat about five years of coverage, why is this passage still included in the online version?

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.

That’s our media: So strong is the urge to find a perfect “narrative,” even the story of a Navy SEAL shooting Osama Bin Laden in the face needed a little polishing up.

Exit question: Why did “the Shooter” hand this story to Esquire anyway instead of writing a book anonymously? Clearly he’s a man in need of money and this would set him and his family up for life. Thanks to White House leaks and “Zero Dark Thirty,” the basics of the Bin Laden raid are already common knowledge. All that’s left is to hear from the man who did the honors on the third floor of Osama’s compound.