in stable condition at Army medical center
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[June 14, 2014]
By Jim Forsyth
SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - U.S. Army Sergeant
Bowe Bergdahl, who spent five years as a Taliban prisoner of war before
being released on May 31, was in stable condition at a military hospital
in Texas and has not yet met with his parents, military officials said
Bergdahl, who arrived in the pre-dawn hours of Friday on a
military flight from Germany, was in a good enough physical
condition to meet with debriefers but has not been informed of the
controversy surrounding his capture, the officials said.
"What we are trying to do is get him to recognize that the coping
skills he used to survive this long, five-year ordeal may not be
healthy and functional now," Colonel Bradley Poppen, an Army
psychologist, told a news conference held near the Brooke Army
Medical Center in San Antonio where Bergdahl will receive care.
No timeline has been set for his recovery, said officials who
declined to give any further details about contacts between Bergdahl
and his family to respect their privacy.
While the Army also gave little information about Bergdahl's health
and emotional state, officials said they were pleased with his
physical state on arrival.
"He appeared just like any sergeant would, when they see a two-star
general: A little bit nervous. But he looked good," said Major
General Joseph DiSalvo.
Bergdahl had been able to walk into the hospital, and was settling
in after a long transatlantic flight from Germany.
The military hospital has teams of specialists and has been helping
returning prisoners of war for decades.
Bergdahl has had one request when it comes to food, military
officials said - peanut butter.
Bergdahl was handed over to U.S. forces in Afghanistan in exchange
for five Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo prison in Cuba. His
release initially sparked a wave of support that was quickly
overshadowed by a political uproar over the freeing of the senior
Lawmakers criticized the Obama administration for failing to give
them 30 days' notice before transferring prisoners from Guantanamo
as required by law. Some charged that in doing the exchange, the
administration had effectively violated its policy against
negotiating with terrorists.
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Some of Bergdahl's former comrades in Afghanistan alleged he had
deserted when he walked away from his post, in circumstances that
are unclear, and was later captured.
Bergdahl's return to U.S. soil was quietly welcomed in his hometown
of Hailey in central Idaho, where businesses and supporters of the
Bergdahl family have received hate mail and phone calls from
detractors labeling the Army sergeant a deserter and traitor.
“We're still standing with Bowe," said Sue Martin, owner of Zaney's
River Street Coffee House, where Bergdahl worked before enlisting.
"He has the personal insight and the intelligence to be able to
address this long period of healing," she said.
Bergdahl's parents, Bob and Jani Bergdahl, were expected to travel
to Texas from Idaho, although it was not immediately clear when, or
whether they had spoken with their son.
In a statement on behalf of the family, the Bergdahls said they do
not intend to make their travel plans public.
"They ask for continued privacy as they concentrate on their son's
reintegration," the statement said.
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