Bowe Bergdahl’s Return to Active Duty: Is He Really ‘Reintegrated’?

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Scott Olson/Getty Images

With any “normal” deployment experience, there is a degree of reintegration that takes place upon returning from active duty. When a military member returns and has suffered trauma, the reintegration process is somewhat different. And in the case of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl — who was held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan for just under five years — reintegration is a whole other ball game. It’s also one that’s made far more complicated by its publicity and the events surrounding his disappearance and return. So it comes as rather a surprise that Bergdahl’s reintegration process is over, and he’s returned to active duty.

From the time he was taken back into U.S. hands until now, officials have described him as going through ‘reintegration’ and receiving the professional help he needs. It’s worth taking a look at what’s taken place in the interim after his homecoming and just what the latest announcement means.

Sgt. Bergdahl has completed the final phase of the reintegration process under the control of U.S. Army South and is currently being assigned to U.S. Army North, Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston (JBSA),” said the Army in a statement according to Time. “He will now return to regular duty within the command where he can contribute to the mission.”

This announcement has sparked a flurry of suspicions and protestations on his reliability and trustworthiness. Trading him for five members of the Taliban was made particularly controversial with many suspecting that — based on various evidence including letters and packages sent home — when he’d left the base in Afghanistan five years ago, he’d been intending to desert. The investigation into this is still ongoing and reports say he will soon be interviewed by the head of the investigation, Brig General Kenneth Dahl. A private attorney for Bergdahl will be present for the interview.

As a result of this controversy, some see his return to duty as a publicity stunt more than anything else. His active duty will include a desk position in U.S. Army North Headquarters, working on domestic defense efforts. Despite the continued investigation Army North spokesman Don Manuszewski told New York Magazine that  Bergdahl will be able to leave the base and is able to “participate in the same on and off-post opportunities as any other soldier.” He will be in a private room but will live amidst other soldiers “who are providing leadership and guidance,” said Manuszewski.