Stress Coach: Bergdahl's Mental Health Key to Rejoining Family

Friday, 13 Jun 2014 02:42 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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The two letters Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl wrote to his parents during his five years in captivity show he was a deeply troubled man, says Terry Lyles, a stress coach and educator who has worked with Sept. 11 rescue workers and tsunami victims.

"There was a lot going on in (Bergdahl's) mind and heart, obviously," Lyles told Newsmax TV host J.D. Hayworth on the "America's Forum" program.

The Daily Beast obtained copies of the letters – delivered to Bergdahl's family by the International Red Cross -- in which Bergdahl asked his family and the U.S. government not to judge him for voluntarily leaving his post in 2009 until they knew all the facts.

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"If this letter makes it to the U.S.A., tell those involved in the investigation that there are more sides to the cittuwation (sic)," Bergdahl wrote. "Please tell D.C. to wait for all evadince (sic) to come in."

He said "leadership was lacking, if not non-existent" and that "the conditions were bad and looked to be getting worse for the men that where actuly (sic) the ones risking thier (sic) lives from attack."

Lyles said the writings could be indicative of many issues.

"I don't know if he was afraid to stay where he was and when the fear gets so large that you'd rather leave to another unknown fear," he opined, or said "it could have been irrationality, it could have been he was afraid of his own platoon. We don't know yet."

Earlier indications of Bergdahl's mental health are being looked at after revelations that the Coast Guard discharged him after only 26 days of boot camp. He was dismissed from the Coast Guard two years before trying to enlist in the Army, according to Time.

Bergdahl's friends have reportedly said Bergdahl was discharged for psychological reasons, while the Coast Guard said it was an "uncharacterized discharge," typically given to someone who leaves without completing basic training, according to Time.

"I'm sure the Army is trying to mitigate right now because he washed out of the Coast Guard" and was then accepted into the Army, Lyles said. "I don't know why that bar was let down that low. They had to know. So there's going to be issues there, I'm sure it's going to come up."

Lyles said professionals are likely trying to bolster Bergdahl's mental, psychological ,and physical state to ensure that he's "strong enough to handle one of the biggest stressors he's going to encounter, which is reuniting with his family and his past."

"He doesn't know what his new reality is going to be, but he does know what it was before and it wasn't really good, from what we know," according to Lyles, who mentioned reports that Bergdahl had a rocky relationship with his family before going to war.

Bergdahl's reticence to reunite with his family is not uncommon for a prisoner of war, he added.

"It's not uncommon for individuals going through that level of trauma to not want to go back to where they came from because it's just too much," he explained.

"He's learned how to survive in a cage, in the dark, doing whatever had to go through for five years. He had to learn how to compartmentalize everything and he's probably done a pretty good job of that. However, that transitional state now that he has to go through, I don't know that he'd want to meet with anybody until he feels really ready to be able to walk through that door."

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