The controversy over the sentencing of convicted Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl rages, but there’s one thing at least 100 U.S. Congress members agree on.
Bergdahl was recently sentenced to no additional prison time and a $10,000 fine for walking off his post. The Taliban found him, and Bergdahl spent the next five years as their prisoner.
In 2014, Military.com reported Bergdahl could receive “about $300,000 in back pay and special compensation” for being a prisoner. Now that the prospect of that is looking more real by the day, the congressional reps have written the military a letter to say no way:
Fox News reports the letter to the acting Army secretary “encourages” him not to award Bergdahl back pay because he admitted he’d deserted his post.
The signees said they were “happy” Bergdahl was back home but displeased with the circumstances behind it.
Their sentiments are shared by angry vets and others around the country, including Donald Trump Jr:
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American Military News reports that Bergdahl’s pay is structured based on his 2008 enlistment:
Bergdahl enlisted in the Army in 2008, graduated Infantry School at Fort Benning and deployed in 2009.
According to an Army pay chart for active duty soldiers, an E5 with less than two years experience – Bergdahl’s rank while in captivity – would make a little more than $27,000 a year. At five years, that’s approximately $135,000.
The publication adds the Army must decide if it treats Bergdahl as a prisoner of war.
And American Military News reports his guilty plea is key:
Soldiers who are captured normally are given about $150,000 in special compensation, plus hostile-fire pay on top of their basic pay at the appropriate rank during time they are in captivity.
However, because of his guilty plea, the Army must decide whether to treat Bergdahl as a prisoner of war or not; as a prisoner of war, Bergdahl would be eligible for back pay and benefits accumulated during time in captivity.
The Army Times reports it’s possible Bergdahl might have to pay back his salary for a period of time he was imprisoned as well.
It’s unclear when the decision about Bergdahl’s back pay will be made. But no doubt, the new Army secretary may bring some heft to the decision.
President Trump’s choice for Army secretary, Mark Esper, who worked for the defense contractor Raytheon, was just sworn in to his new office Tuesday.
Watch a discussion of the issue below, via Fox News.