Skip to main content

Recently released Bergdahl venturing off-base, rubbing elbows with public

By Martin Savidge, CNN
updated 8:41 AM EDT, Wed July 2, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bowe Bergdahl was released May 31 in exchange for five Taliban being held by U.S.
  • He's been monitored by medical doctors since; he's now at an Army base in Texas
  • Bergdahl has gone to restaurants, a library and stores, Army spokeswoman says
  • Sometimes he's been in uniform and interacted with the public, the source says

(CNN) -- Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier held captive for five years by militants before his release a month ago, has ventured several times off an Army base in Texas as part of the effort to get him used to everyday life in America, a military spokeswoman said.

His release on May 31 in exchange for five Taliban being held by the U.S. military has rankled some, including former members of his unit, who said he was a deserter who endangered colleagues searching for him. Yet while investigating circumstances surrounding his departure, the military has also said it's focused on making sure Bergdahl gets better mentally and physically, so he can gradually readjust to normal life.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl opens up
Sgt. Bergdahl's ex-comrade speaks out

Since being freed, Bergdahl has been carefully monitored at a military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, and his home since June 13, Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.

He recently transitioned from inpatient care at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas to outpatient care, the Army said on June 22.

Matthew Todd Miller, one of three Americans detained in North Korea, spoke to CNN's Will Ripley on Monday, September 1, and implored the U.S. government for help. The 24-year-old is accused of tearing up his tourist visa and seeking asylum upon entry. Dressed in a black turtleneck and often avoiding eye contact, Miller told CNN he has admitted his guilt -- even though he won't learn of his charges until he goes to trial. Matthew Todd Miller, one of three Americans detained in North Korea, spoke to CNN's Will Ripley on Monday, September 1, and implored the U.S. government for help. The 24-year-old is accused of tearing up his tourist visa and seeking asylum upon entry. Dressed in a black turtleneck and often avoiding eye contact, Miller told CNN he has admitted his guilt -- even though he won't learn of his charges until he goes to trial.
Americans detained abroad
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: Americans detained abroad Photos: Americans detained abroad

Still, Bergdahl has hardly left the care of military health professionals.

Members of his reintegration team escort him whenever he leaves base and interacts with the public, the Army spokeswoman said. His stops have included a library, a supermarket and several stores of his choosing.

Bergdahl has also eaten at fast-food and sit-down restaurants. The Army sergeant is encouraged to pick the places, but because he's not from San Antonio, he is offered some advice.

"Sometimes they sit at the table with him," the Army spokeswoman said of those on Bergdahl's reintegration team who accompany him. "... Other times, they hang in the background."

During his trips off-base, Bergdahl sometimes wears civilian clothing and others times dresses in his military uniform.

In some instances while he has been in uniform, members of the public have recognized him and shaken his hand, according to the Army spokeswoman.

His reintegration phase will end sometime in the next several weeks, an Army official said.

He will then be assigned to an Army unit, according to the official, though details of his next stop have not been disclosed.

Bergdahl went missing on June 30, 2009, in Afghanistan's Paktika province, where he was deployed with the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.

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.

But there was no definitive conclusion Bergdahl was a deserter because that would require knowing his intent, something officials couldn't learn without talking to him, a U.S. military official told CNN last month.

Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl is leading the Army's formal Bergdahl investigation, which will review previous findings. The two-star general could ask to re-interview anyone who can shed light on the case; talking to Bergdahl himself would likely be the last step in this investigation, one official said.

As of the middle of last week, the soldier hadn't been interviewed by investigators nor did he have a lawyer, one official said.

Military officials have talked to Bergdahl about the days and years after his capture as part of the reintegration process.

"We have no reason to believe that he engaged in any misconduct during that period of time," one official said late last month, referring to Bergdahl's time in captivity.

No lawyer yet for Bergdahl even though probe underway

Who was swapped for Bergdahl?

Fellow soldiers call Bergdahl a deserter, not a hero

CNN's Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl released
updated 8:36 AM EDT, Fri June 13, 2014
It was perhaps the most contentious moment during a House Armed Services Committee hearing filled with them.
updated 9:21 PM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
Could former U.S. State Department contractor Alan Gross be part of a new prisoner swap?
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Mon June 9, 2014
What happened to six of Bergdahl's platoonmates in the months after he disappeared? Some are blaming their deaths on Bergdahl.
updated 7:43 PM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
The deaths of six U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan are being tied, directly or indirectly, to the search for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
CNN's Jake Tapper's in-depth, three-part documentary, reporting on Bergdahl's time in captivity, life before the Army and what happened the night he disappeared in Afghanistan.
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release from Taliban captivity was largely celebrated at first.
updated 1:43 PM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
Alisa Weinstein was thrilled when she heard about Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release. She hopes her father will be next.
updated 4:10 PM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
The recent release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has refocused attention on some of the other Americans held captive in that region.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Wed June 4, 2014
Bob Bergdahl was startling to see and hear at first: the father had seemingly morphed into an Afghan tribesman, wearing a long beard and even speaking Pashto.
updated 9:43 PM EDT, Fri June 6, 2014
Marcus Luttrell, a fomer Navy SEAL and the author of "Lone Survivor," talks about being trapped behind enemy lines.
updated 5:00 AM EDT, Tue June 3, 2014
Could the exchange of five Taliban prisoners for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl set a precedent for swaps involving other countries holding U.S. military or diplomatic personnel?
updated 7:19 AM EDT, Tue June 3, 2014
President Obama defends his decision to swap imprisoned terrorists for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
updated 8:13 PM EDT, Wed June 4, 2014
Veterans and soldiers call him a deserter whose "selfish act" ended up costing the lives of better men.
updated 7:14 PM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
People who know Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl have described him as a well-rounded, well-grounded and hardworking young man.
updated 7:55 PM EDT, Sat May 31, 2014
Together with the news that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was released came word that five detainees at Guantanamo Bay were being transferred to Qatar.
updated 4:48 PM EDT, Wed June 4, 2014
Guantanamo Bay detainees have long been considered America's most dangerous enemies.
updated 6:52 PM EDT, Sat May 31, 2014
The parents of U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl joined President Obama as they await their son's return.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT