The thing about Bowe Bergdahl is why was he even in the Army in the first place? It is near suicide to walk off a FOB with no weapon and no protective gear. Yet, that is exactly what he did before he was captured by the Taliban. He had washed out of Coast Guard basic training after only three weeks. Coast Guard training is not as easy as some think it is, or so says Task & Purpose. But, being rejected from any of the services’ basic training suggests he was not ready for the Army and deployment. The Coast Guard psychiatrist who saw him recommended that he be evaluated first before any of the military services choose to accept him. That ought to have served as a major red flag. The Coast Guard diagnosed him with “adjustment disorder with depression.” In layman’s language, that means he did not adjust well to changing circumstances. Nothing changes more often or more quickly than a war zone.
He had an episode in the Coast Guard basic training in which he simply broke down. In the middle of the night, it appeared that he had gone into the latrine and smashed his face into the mirror. There was a lot of blood. When the trainees found him, he was balled up and crying.
In 2008, the Army was struggling to meet its annual quota of recruits. They waived many entry requirements. According to Task & Purpose, the Army granted waivers to 20% of the new recruits that year. That was way above the normal 4-5%. Waivers are typically given for everything from convictions to excessive weight to psychological issues. See Task & Purpose report. Some of the waiver recruits actually do very well. But, studies have shown that many of the recruits who enter with a waiver are later problem soldiers. Certainly, Bowe Bergdahl was.
And, now it turns out the judge gave SGT Bergdahl no time in prison for his offense, apparently viewing his 5 years as a POW prison enough. He will lose his stripes, which is a big deal to most NCO’s. He will have to pay $10,000 out of his pay. See CBS News report. I know he did not intend anyone to get hurt looking for him. With his mental state, perhaps he did not realize soldiers would be looking for him. But, sure, for months no one knew what happened to him. Of course, they would move mountains to find him. Shame on him for bringing that on all the soldiers in his area of operations. I do not know what to think. He certainly suffered as a POW. But, he caused a great deal of suffering for his fellow soldiers.