SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - The sprawling San
Antonio Military Medical Center where freed prisoner of war Bowe
Bergdahl will soon make his return to the United States is no stranger
to healing the mental wounds of those who have gone through traumatic
Bergdahl, a U.S. Army sergeant held five years by the Taliban
before being freed on May 31, has left a U.S. military hospital in
Germany en route to San Antonio, where he will arrive on Friday for
further treatment, a Pentagon spokesman said on Thursday.
The initial elation that greeted news of Bergdahl's release from
captivity has been tempered after some of Bergdahl's former Army
comrades came forward to say they believe he deliberately abandoned
his post in Afghanistan. It is not clear if he will face Army
The hospital is home to the military's "reintegration process," said
Lieutenant Colonel Carol McClelland, a spokeswoman for Army South,
the command that runs Fort Sam Houston, where the hospital is
The facility, with teams of specialists, has been helping returning
prisoners of war for decades. Details of Bergdahl's treatment were
not made available by the hospital, the largest in-patient hospital
in the Department of Defense.
"Our mission includes family reunions, medical care - debriefings
are included in it. We have a psychologist who monitors the whole
process, Mostly, it is medical care and trying to get the soldier
back into normal activities and routines," she said.
She added the hospital was typically the place where returning
soldiers could be reunited with family members, but she could not
say if Bergdahl would meet his family at the facility.
"Reintegration is a time-proven process that when successfully
executed, provides recovered personnel with the necessary tools to
effectively resume normal, stable, professional, family and
community activities, with minimum physical and emotional
complications," McClelland said.
The San Antonio Military Medical Center was the first stop back in
the United States for three American military contractors who were
released after being held for more than five years by rebels in
Colombia in 2008, and for a contractor released from captivity in
Ethiopia in 2007.
More recently, McClelland said the facility hosted the crew of a
military plane that crashed in South America in 2013.
The hospital was a prime destination for U.S. prisoners of war
released from Vietnam in the early 1970s. It treated the deposed
Shah of Iran in 1979, which helped prompt an attack on the U.S.
Embassy in Tehran a few weeks later.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Edith Honan and Peter