Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl arrived in Texas early Friday, 13 June, returning to the U.S. after spending nearly five years as a captive of Taliban-aligned insurgents in Afghanistan.
The Pentagon confirmed around 3:35 a.m. ET that Sergeant Bergdahl had landed in San Antonio. He was taken to Brooke Army Medical Center, where he will continue treatment initiated at a U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. He’d been recuperating there since May 31, the day he was released by the Haqqani network.
Officials at an afternoon press conference described Sergeant Bergdahl’s condition as stable. “We’re pleased with his physical state. He was able to walk into the hospital in a functional manner. We’re going to be planning more comprehensive testing,” said Col. Ronald Wool, admitting physician at Brooke Army Medical Center.
Army doctors say Sergeant Bergdahl is getting better physically, but needs more time to recover emotionally and psychologically after being held captive for five years. He will not make any public appearances during this phase of his reintegration, and the Pentagon said there would be no media access to his stay.
“Our first priority is making sure that Sgt. Bergdahl continues to get the care and support he needs,” Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said. Kirby added that there was “no timeline” for Bergdahl’s reintegration process.
Maj. Gen. Joseph DiSalvo told reporters he’d seen Bergdahl for approximately 60 seconds. They exchanged salutes and the soldier “looked good … had good deportment,” DiSalvo said.
This next phase of his recovery will likely not be as intense as what he underwent at the U.S. military hospital in Germany, Chris Heben, a former Navy SEAL commenting on the case.
“Emotionally, it’s probably almost surreal for him,” Heben said. “He’s back in the U.S., and he’s no longer under that intense microscope where he was at Landstuhl from a medical standpoint of psychiatric evaluation”
Sergeant Bergdahl’s full physical recovery may take months; his public rehabilitation will likely take longer.
The Bergdahl family, meanwhile, has asked for continued privacy in a statement released Friday on their behalf by military officials.
“While the Bergdahls are overjoyed that their son has returned to the United States, Mr. and Mrs. Bergdahl don’t intend to make any travel plans public,” the statement reads. “They ask for continued privacy as they concentrate on their son’s reintegration.”
Sergeant Bergdahl has not yet spoken to his family and his parents were not present for his arrival. “It isn’t over for us,” Bergdahl’s father, Bob, told reporters last week. “In many ways, it’s just beginning for Jani and I, and our family. There’s a long process here.”