The other day, Bowe Bergdahl received his sentence for his crime, a Bad Conduct Discharge and time served. I have spent the days since the publication of his fate searching for best how to describe why the name Bergdahl will be held in contempt, derision and revilement for as long as the United States has a military force.
Before I begin, I need you to review the story of Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter in my post, Six seconds to live. WARNING: Keep tissues handy while reading.
When you are tasked with standing a watch, a great responsibility is placed on your shoulders. Not only for the protection of "all government property in my view," but for the very lives of the battle brothers and sisters under your protection.
Veterans will generally back other veterans to the hilt in any situation, simply because of the fact that in battle, your life and the lives of all around you depend on you doing what needs to be done. This is why the trust runs so deep. One sailor on a ship in a moment of inattentiveness can sink that ship as shown in this Navy training film, Seven Sailors. One soldier or Marine likewise failing to properly attend their duties can lead to the loss of a platoon, a company, a division. We do not go into battle because we hate who stands against us. We go into battle to protect those we left behind and those who stand with us. The trust we have in each other gives us the courage to go on.
When Bergdahl walked off his post, he broke that trust. His reasons were noble, however by abandoning his post in a war zone, he placed the lives of every man and woman on that base in extremely grave jeopardy. Enemies could have breached the base perimeter and Bergdahl would not have been there to sound the alarm. Or any of a hundred more disasters could have happened and Bergdahl was not there to sound the alarm in time. Trust broken like that can never be regained.
Bergdahl will be paying a heavy price for the rest of his life. He will receive no benefits from the VA or other governmental related veteran agencies, he will not be able to get a job of any great importance. If he does, it will be to exploit his situation and condition to advance the agenda of others. He is also one of the thousands of "walking wounded" with emotional issues from serving in a combat zone and his captivity. No government agency will help him. His former brothers-in-arms will reject and shun him at best.
His punishment was deserved, and I think worse than life imprisonment, because he has to face his community and he will run into veterans. He has a life sentence of being ostracized and suffering contempt and derision from the community. He will stand as an example on how decisions can have serious life-long consequences.