In May of 2014, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was returned to United States in exchange for five Taliban detainees. In 2009, Bergdahl walked off a United States military outpost in eastern Afghanistan. In October, Bergdahl plead guilty to charges of desertion; he faced a maximum life sentence for his crimes. On Friday Nov. 3, Bergdahl was sentenced to a dishonorable discharge from the Army, however the ruling did not include jail time for Bergdahl.
This case has sparked controversy throughout the nation. The initial prisoner exchange challenged the principle of never leaving a soldier behind. President Donald Trump took over the spotlight with his controversial comment that called Bergdahl a traitor and that he should be executed.
After the ruling, President Trump tweeted “a complete disgrace to our Country and to our Military.”
Bergdahl’s defense team claimed that the President’s comments made it impossible for Bergdahl to receive a fair trial. Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance, the judge who made the ruling, implied that the President’s comments could result in a lesser sentence.
However, Nance denied the motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that the president improperly used his position to interfere in the legal process.
Despite not having to serve jail time, Bergdahl will lose all of his benefits including medical care that is provided to military veterans. In addition, he will have to forfeit $1,000 a month for the next 10 months. He was also demoted from sergeant to private. His legal team will pursue the military’s Prisoner of War Medal to be granted to Bergdahl.
Bergdahl left his post just before midnight on June 29, 2009. An army investigation deemed this action an attempt to cause a crisis and bring his concerns about the leaders at the U.S. military outpost, according to The Washington Post. A prosecutor, Maj. Justin Oshana, spoke to the Post and called Bergdahl’s actions “it wasn’t a mistake—it was a crime.”
Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban and tortured for almost eight years. President Obama negotiated his release with a controversial prisoner exchange that sent five Taliban militants back to the Taliban. Bergdahl’s attorney claimed that the years of torture was sufficient punishment and he should be granted leniency. However, this did not dismiss the crimes committed by Bergdahl.
Testimonies were heard during the trial from military members and military families about the injuries and casualties that occurred during rescue missions for Bergdahl. A former Navy SEAL, James Hatch claimed he was shot in the leg while on a rescue mission. Shannon Allen, wife of wounded warrior, also testified that her husband was shot in the head while searching for Bergdahl.
Now that a ruling has been brought on Bergdahl’s actions, there will be another decision regarding the type of compensation Bergdahl is entitled to. According to Fox News, a captured service member usually receives $150,000, as well as hostile- fire pay and the basic pay they accumulated while held captive.
“Based upon the results of trial, the Army is reviewing Sgt. Bergdahl’s pay and allowances,” Lt. Col. Randy Taylor told the Times. “His final pay and allowances will be determined in accordance with DoD policy and Army.