Bergdahl's Father: Bowe Needs Time to Decompress

Sunday, 01 Jun 2014 09:15 PM

By Greg Richter

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Freed Taliban captive Bowe Bergdahl will need to decompress "like a deep sea diver," his father says.

"Bowe has been gone so long, it’s going to be very difficult to come back. If he comes up too fast, it could kill him," Bob Bergdahl said.

Bob Bergdahl and his wife Jani told a press conference in Boise, Idaho they have not yet talked to their son, who is being treated at an Army base in Germany following his realease from captivity in Afghanistan.

Story continues below video.

They thanked those who helped them through the five-plus years of their son's captivity  by the Taliban and told their son they were proud of him.

Bob Bergdahl choked up when he told his son how he felt.

"I’m so proud of your character. I’m so proud of your patience and your perseverance," he said. "I'm so proud of your cultural abilities to adapt, your language skills, your desire and your action to serve this country in a very difficult, long war. But most of all, I'm proud of how much you wanted to help the Afghan people and what you were willing to do to go to that length … and I think you have succeeded."

Bob Bergdahl said there were too many people to thank individually but mentioned those in the government who worked to secure his son's release and friends on Twitter and the biker community who offered his family hope and support.

"You'll never know how complicated this was," he said, addressing his son.

Jani Bergdahl told Bowe, who was a private first  class when abducted in 2009 but promoted to sergeant in 2011, "We’ve been working very, very hard for your release these last five years, along with the whole of our government, even other governments, and most especially, of course, Qatar, never losing hope in you or for you."

Qatar negotiated a deal between the U.S. government and Bergdahl's Taliban captors. The United States released five prisoners from Guantanamo Bay into Qatar's charge in exchange for Bergdahl.

Some Republicans, while praising Bergdahl's release, have said the United States broke its longstanding policy not to negotiate with terrorists.  But Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel described the move as an exchange of prisoners of war and part of the military's oath to leave no man behind.

Bergdahl was the only member of the U.S. military in Taliban hands.

His mother urged him at the press conference to give himself all the time needed to recover and decompress.

"You are from a strong tribe. You are even stronger now," she said.

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