Bowe Bergdahl Was Discharged From Coast Guard Before Joining Army

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 12 2014 11:33 AM

Bowe Bergdahl Was Discharged From Coast Guard Before Joining Army

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Bergdahl.

Photo by U.S. Army via Getty Images

Rescued POW Bowe Bergdahl was discharged from the Coast Guard for psychological reasons before he joined the Army, the Washington Post reports.

According to Coast Guard records, Bergdahl left the service in early 2006 with an “uncharacterized discharge” after 26 days of basic training. The term applies to people discharged before completing 180 days of service.
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The official records don't describe the circumstances of Bergdahl's departure, but the Post spoke to two friends of his who say he claimed to have faked a psychological problem to escape his commitment. Both told the newspaper that they believed he had real psychological issues underneath whatever he might have affected as a ruse:

“I said, ‘What happened?’ ” this friend recalled. “He said he started to feign a psychological disorder, saying strange things to get out. I remember flat out calling him out on it — I said, ‘There is something else going on.’ He said, ‘I chose to do it.’
“I know he believed he was in control, but I didn’t,” the friend added. “I sincerely doubted that.”

It's not clear how Bergdahl was able to enlist in the Army in 2008 after his Coast Guard discharge. A source told the Post that a special waiver should have been required given his history.

The Post piece quotes extensively from journals Bergdahl sent to a friend in Idaho. His writing evinces literary aspirations and a seemingly perpetual state of frightened depression:

“The closer I get to ship day, the calmer the voices are. I’m reverting. I’m getting colder. My feelings are being flushed with the frozen logic and the training, all the unfeeling cold judgment of the darkness.”

Ben Mathis-Lilley edits the Slatest. Follow @Slatest on Twitter.