Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban in 2009, arrived back in the United States late last week. He is now undergoing reintegration treatment at a medical facility in San Antonio.
At the same time, the U.S. Army is currently investigating how and why Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl left his base in Afghanistan, a move that may have resulted in his capture. An Army fact-finding investigation conducted in the months after his disappearance concluded he left his outpost deliberately and of his own free will, according to an official who was briefed on the report.
Also, Bergdahl was exchanged for five Taliban figures being held at a U.S. military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Critics of the trade have said that the U.S. paid too high a price for Bergdahl’s freedom -- that the five Taliban figures released from U.S. custody could pose a danger to the U.S. if they go back into circulation.
Bergdahl supporters have said that he suffered during his five years of captivity that politicized considerations should not be made concerning American prisoners of war.
Veterans in Kodiak praised the U.S. government’s actions to get Bergdahl back.
“I believe, personally, what they did is the right thing,” said Walter Sargent, a Vietnam veteran.
“It doesn’t matter what the circumstances were. A service member is a service member,” Sargent added.
Peter Lyse, an Army band veteran whose resume includes playing at President Kennedy’s inauguration, supports the negotiations brokered by Qatar that got Bergdahl back.
“It was a good thing that they negotiated and got him back to the United States,” Lyse said.
“He’s an American soldier … in a very stressful situation. And to be captured for five years -- I don’t have a problem with his release,” Lyse added.
Ed DeNoyelles, Vietnam vet and American Legion member, agreed.
“A prisoner of war has rights to be treated fairly. I think all the negative press has gone on and impeded that process and I think it’s an injustice to him and his family and to the American spirit. I hope that a non-partisan fair process is employed,” DeNoyelles said.
Other vets stressed the importance of Bergdahl’s reunion with his family.
Mike Dolph, a U.S. Navy vet who also fought in Vietnam, believes that Bergdahl should focus on reuniting with his family.
“If I were in his shoes, not knowing what the situation personally with him, I would want to be seeing my family fairly quickly. That’s the only slant I have on it. I think they are doing all the right to make sure he’s ready for interaction with family members and other citizens.”
Perspective is also key.
“Nobody knows what he’s gone through except for him,” Dolph said.
“He needs to be prepared for interfacing with people again.”
Contact Peter J. Mladineo at email@example.com.