Clear, concise and a Bull’s-eye! SF, Lancer
Subject: Bowe Bergdahl
by Jon Williams
As an Army Veteran who was working as a contractor attached to the 25th Infantry Division (same Division as Bergdahl) in a nearby FOB when Bowe Bergdahl went missing, I feel the need to speak out on the situation (notice I don’t ascribe rank to him, I will address that later).
A few days ago, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel took the stage at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan and excitedly started with what he thought would be a big applause line. “We got him back!” he exclaimed.
Not. Even. One. Clap.
Numerous White House leaks show that Obama and his team were convinced that Americans would greet the news of a returning POW with elation; that this would be the great moment in Obama’s second term. This shows just how clueless they are about the military. Let me clue them in.
You see, when Hagel took the stage, he expected joy at the announcement that one of their own was returned! However, you have to see inside a soldier’s mind to understand what was going on here. I believe I can provide a little insight.
When a soldier deserts his post, when he writes that he is ashamed to be an American, when he gives the enemy secrets (and he did), he is no longer “one of us”. He is a traitor. He is not a brother-in-arms.
Soldiers risk their lives for each other every day on the battlefield, there is a trust and respect they have for each other. For Bowe Bergdahl to break that trust and the Secretary of Defense to announce a hero’s welcome instead of a court-martial is a huge let-down.
He isn’t one of their own. He is one of them. He is the enemy.
That’s not something to celebrate.
The message the White House is sending is that they value treason more than honorable service.
Read that last sentence again. Let it sink in. THIS is what every soldier is thinking.
In a soldier’s mind serving with honor means finishing your tour, even if you disagree with the way things are done. All bets are off if you serve with dishonor.
I do not refer to Bergdahl as a sergeant, even though he received “automatic” promotions while in the Taliban’s custody because according to law, after 30 days his rank and pay should have been stripped from him. Due to political pressure, his was not. In fact, he probably has over $200,000 in cash waiting in his bank account. In my opinion, this money should be given to the families of the soldiers who died in the aftermath of his desertion.
Bowe Bergdahl deserted his post. He served with dishonor. I know that firsthand. Our soldiers know that. They know they risk their lives every day. They don’t get a hero’s welcome from the White House, they get fewer meals (due to budget constraints) and less safety equipment (due to the drawdown).
Let me be perfectly clear. A Rose Garden Ceremony, a “hero’s welcome”, and automatic promotions to a person that deserted is nothing more than a slap in the face to every service member who has served honorably.
That, Mr. President and Mr. Hagel, is why soldiers aren’t clapping and applauding for you. That is why you have lost any remaining respect from the military community.