Bowe Bergdahl, a US Army soldier held captive for almost five years by Taliban forces, was the last and only American POW in Afghanistan to bring home. But there were controversies surrounding his return, the two main ones being his exchange for five Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay, and claims that our commander in chief Obama did not have the authority to make such an exchange. Additionally, there are those who are angry at Bergdahl for leaving his post, going AWOL, or possibly deserting, and he may face court martial and prison time. Rumors abound about whether other soldiers died as a direct result of their search for Bergdahl. One former US Army Sergeant, Josh Korder, for example, denounces Bergdahl, “He chose to take off his gear, put down his weapon, and walk away…” and says what Bergdahl did is “just not forgivable.”
My two older brothers came of age during the Viet Nam war. This was a time when our country did not whole heartedly “support our troops,” calling them, for one, “baby killers” –there is a rumor that Bergdahl saw an American tank run over an Afghani child. Though I am against military action before diplomacy is exhausted, I am happy that our nation does not now disparage these young men and women upon their return home. I additionally advocate that we not disparage troops who, for whatever reasons, break or break faith. The older of my two brothers joined up in the late sixties, his best childhood friend having ‘been the first on our block to come home in a box’ and the other brother made his plans to relocate to Canada should his draft number come up. My parents supported both their sons’ decisions. Looking back, this support of these two antipodal positions now seems remarkable in this political climate where black and white are so rigidly demarcated. Though both my brothers fare well today, we know too well that not all our soldiers come home unscathed. Can we not find compassion for the horrific pressures troops are placed under?
I am so proud to be a volunteer clinician for TBIPS’ Veterans Family Initiative which provides pro bono and low fee, long term and intensive psychotherapy services without any significant wait time to veterans and their families. I am so proud, too, that training at TBIPS emphasizes negotiation of paradox where seemingly contradictory positions are, with our understanding of multiple self states, welcomed in, each as a necessary part of the whole. We all strive to be whole and wholly connected. No matter what Bowe Bergdahl has done or did not do, he remains the beloved son of Jani and Bob, and I, with them, welcome him home.