Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl deserves to be welcomed home

June 3, 2014

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Good afternoon:

I am surprised by recent criticism of President Obama and Chuck Hagel, the Secretary of Defense, regarding their agreement to release five former members of the Taliban in exchange for the Taliban releasing Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, whom they seized five years ago.

Republicans in Congress have criticized the agreement because they were not informed about it until after the exchange took place and they believe the U.S. gave up too much in the 5 to 1 swap.

Several members of his platoon also have criticized the agreement publicly. They claim Sergeant Bergdahl was a deserter and they resent him because six members of the platoon were killed during an unsuccessful attempt to find him.

Some Republicans have repeated this accusation when all of us should be praying for his full recovery and welcoming him home.

The response by the administration is that timing was critical, they reached an agreement with the Taliban faster than expected, and they carried out a promise to military personnel to leave no one behind by securing the release of the only soldier held by the Taliban.

The administration has announced that the Department of Defense classified Sergeant Bergdahl as a prisoner of war and he is receiving medical care in a hospital in Germany. It has promised to investigate what happened and take appropriate action after he recovers.

The plot has thickened because Sergeant Bergdahl apparently objected to the war in Afghanistan and he talked about leaving his weapons behind and walking to India.

I suspect the intense pressure and anxiety of living in a war zone where your next breath or step could be your last coupled with an escalating dislike of the war and U.S. objectives in Afghanistan could cause a psychological breakdown in anyone, no matter their toughness.

Throwing down your weapons and abandoning the relative safety of the military post to walk hundreds of miles through hostile country to reach India is not rational behavior. It sounds like he was experiencing a psychotic delusion or break and he was lucky the Taliban did not kill him when they first saw him.

Seems like everywhere I look, I find people with undiagnosed and untreated mental illness.

I am offended by the unofficial and unproven accusation that Sergeant Bergdahl, who is officially classified as a POW, was a deserter who should have been left to rot and die in a prison somewhere in Afghanistan.

The Republicans never cease to amaze me with how low they can go.

They deserve to be condemned for attacking the character of a prisoner of war who was never formally accused of wrongdoing and has been locked up for 5 years.

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