Esquire got the ball rolling with its story claiming that the Navy told the former Navy SEAL who shot Osama bin Laden, “Your coverage is over … Go fuck yourself”:
“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.”
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.
The story spread like wildfire on the Internet thanks in part to “real journalists” like Ezra Klein and Sarah Kliff of the Washington Post.
Just two problems.
First, contrary to what Klein and others initially wrote, the former Navy SEAL has health insurance:
Second, it turns out that the former SEAL is eligible for at least five years of free health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs — a rather important fact that somehow was omitted in both the original Esquire article and the MSM’s follow-up coverage.
Brandon Friedman, who used to be a public affairs officer for the VA, was among the first to call BS:
The author of the Esquire article, Phil Bronstein, responded to Friedman that the “5-year provision is in the story.”
More BS. Bronstein’s article makes no mention of the 5-year provision.
And get this: Rather than issue a correction and apology for smearing the military, Bronstein is standing by his bogus story. According to Stars and Stripes reporter Megan McCloskey, Bronstein 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.”
You can say that again.
Was the longtime Navy SEAL really ignorant of his VA health benefits, as Bronstein asserts? Some Twitter users find that claim really hard to believe:
Meanwhile, hours after the story was debunked, the MSM plowed ahead with its false narrative:
Layers and layers of fact-checkers score again:
The spread of the "Navy-abandons-SEAL-who-shot-bin-Laden" story has reflected incredibly poorly on the media today.—
Brandon Friedman (@BFriedmanDC) February 11, 2013