Bowe Bergdahl Returns to Active Duty with the Military, May Receive $350K in Back Pay
Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the 28-year-old soldier who was traded by the U.S. for five senior Taliban operatives held at Guantanamo Bay, is set to return to active duty today after spending six weeks in medical rehab at Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio.
According to Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren, “Essentially he’ll be working a desk job.”
On Saturday, Bergdahl was moved to the U.S. Army North command, from the U.S. Army South command, which had overseen his arrival in the U.S., as well as his reintegration.
After his move he will return to work and live in standard military barracks. He will be assigned to the protocol office, which assists soldiers in military procedures and etiquette.
According to one Army official, speaking on the condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to publicly discuss the sergeant’s case, “That’s the worst place to put him. They’re pulling his clearance so I’m not sure what he’s supposed to do.”
Bergdahl is now able to move about freely, and has been reported to have been seen in a shopping mall and at a restaurant. Despite this, Bergdahl’s parents, Robert and Jani Bergdahl, have not yet visited their son. He has not spoken to them either, however he has sent two letters to their home in Idaho. There are reports of problems within the family.
Bergdahl stands to receive $350,000, tax free, if the current investigation into his disappearance from his base in Afghanistan is determined to not be desertion and if he they find that he was a prisoner of war for the five years he was held by Islamic extremists.
Should the investigation go in his favor, he is due approximately $200,000 in back pay for the time he was held by the Talbian, plus another $150,000 if they find he was a prisoner of war. Both amounts could be tax free.
Under tax rules for military pay, enlisted personnel can exclude active-duty pay earned while serving in a combat zone. And, according to the Department of Defense’s financial management regulation, payments to former captives generally are not taxable if the captive status resulted from the deprivation of personal rights, such as terrorist activity.
The Pentagon said today that the investigation is ongoing, but gave no further details. Bergdhal’s status as a POW will only be determined after the investigation into why he walk off his post in eastern Afghanistan in June 2009 is complete.
Bergdahl has not yet been questioned as to why he abandoned his post and it is unclear when his military service will end. He now has a lawyer representing him and, according to one military official:
He appears unconcerned about the Army’s investigation. The investigation has to get moving, as he’s out of the Army soon. He lawyered up so we had to scale back the de-briefing.
Since his release by the Taliban, several soldiers who served with Bergdahl have come forward and said they believe he left his post intentionally and put his fellow soldiers at risk when they went to search for him.