Letter to the Editor: Bergdahl's shame will haunt him for life


Friday, January 5, 2018

For Bowe Bergdahl, ex-member of the U.S. Army, the loneliness is just beginning.

Bergdahl is a man without a country. His saga is well known. He’s a pariah, having been dishonorably discharged from the service.

That’s as low as it gets.

Just consider the Texas gunman who shot up a church recently in the news, killing 26 innocent people. He was discharged for bad conduct from the Air Force.

A dishonorable discharge is even worse than a bad conduct discharge. Presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was dishonorably discharged from the Marines.

In the present era, the Armed Forces hand out five times as many “DDs” (dishonorable discharges) as were given out during World War II. So many discharges for dishonorable conduct! What ... are soldiers five times worse today?

Not likely.

The DD and BCD (bad conduct discharge) are a means for the services to rid themselves of problem individuals. The Texas gunman had a history of violent behavior probably justifying his own BCD.

The Air Force had a responsibility, though, to notify the FBI of the service member’s discharge. That could have prevented the massacre in Texas and saved many lives. But the service failed to follow through, or it probably figured that he’s no longer “our problem.” That sort of narrow thinking does a real disservice. It’s inexcusable. Bowe Bergdahl spent five years living in a cage when he was being held prisoner.

That was lonely, for sure. Now, he faces a different sort of loneliness.

In the famous novel, “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the main character Hester Prynne is branded with the letter “A” for her adulterous ways. Effectively, she had been marked an outcast from society. 

She was ostracized from her community. Lonely, lonely, lonely.

Although Bergdahl won’t have to wear any symbol of his military discharge, a quick internet search would reveal his ignominy and shame.

The name Bowe Bergdahl is rather well known. Everybody knows his story by now. If the former soldier had stayed in his native Idaho and worked in a regular job, no one would have heard of Bowe Bergdahl.


Rocky Mount