Freed U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl wants to leave the military and return to civilian life, his lawyer said on Wednesday.
Bergdahl, from Hailey, Idaho, was released on May 31 after five years as a Taliban prisoner of war in Afghanistan in a controversial trade for five Taliban commanders held at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Reuters reported. "He is ready to move on to the next chapter of his life," Bergdahl's attorney, Eugene Fidell, told Reuters. "He would like to get a college education."
Captured in Afghanistan on June 30, 2009, in unclear circumstances, Bergdahl's release initially sparked euphoria in the U.S., which then quickly transpired into a political debate over whether he had abandoned his post and whether the prisoner swap should have gone ahead.
After his release, Bergdahl went through a reintegration program and counseling at a military hospital in San Antonio. He has returned to active military duty with a desk job in an office at Fort Sam Houston.
However, Fidell said the fact Bergdahl wants to leave the Army did not surprise him. "People who have had this kind of experience, in my understanding, tend not to remain in the service," Fidell said. "It is time for Sergeant Bergdahl to just become plain old Bowe Bergdahl and move on with his life."
Meanwhile, Major General Kenneth Dahl is leading an investigation to find out how Bergdahl came to be a prisoner of the Taliban. He has been granted "60 days from his June 16 appointment to determine if Bergdahl broke any military regulations or laws in connection to the incident, but has been granted an extension, the Army said," according to Reuters.
"Dahl could recommend no punishment and simply allow Bergdahl to leave the Army with an honorable discharge. He could also recommend an administrative punishment, like loss of rank or a less than honorable discharge, which would affect Bergdahl's ability to receive veterans' benefits. He could also recommend court-martial on criminal charges."
"I would certainly like for him to have veterans' benefits, of course," Fidell said.