$300K in Army back pay for Bergdahl? 100 lawmakers object

Thursday, November 16, 2017
 | 
Michael F. Haverluck (OneNewsNow.com)

U.S. Army soldiers logoRepulsed by the thought of the United States Army awarding $300,000 in back pay to a deserter who was issued a dishonorable discharge, 100 members of U.S. Congress have signed a letter calling the military branch to refrain from paying demoted U.S. Army Private Bowe Bergdahl.

“We are writing to encourage the United States Army not to award Private Bowe Bergdahl any back pay prior to or subsequent to separation from the United States Army,” the letter from Congress reads, according to Fox News.

Not under my watch

Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) spearheaded the initiative that was signed by 99 other members of Congress so that Bergdahl will not be rewarded for deserting his camp stationed in Afghanistan back in 2009.

“As Members of Congress committed to our servicemen, servicewomen and veterans, we understand the incredible sacrifice that is required of those in uniform,” the document continued. “With that said, it is our firm belief Private Bergdahl should not be awarded back pay.”

Because Bergdahl was technically in captivity – even though he willfully left his camp and stayed with Islamic terrorists who he said treated him better than his fellow servicemen – he could be eligible to receive a large compensation.

“Bergdahl could reportedly be entitled to as much as $300,000 in compensation for the time he spent in Taliban captivity after he deserted his post in 2009 and was captured,” Fox News’ Lukas Mikelionis explained. “All captive servicemen are entitled to receive a compensation worth around $150,000 in addition to the basic pay they were supposed to receive while in captivity.”

This concern is brought up in the letter, which was written to make sure the Army deserter does not receive a large sum after putting fellow soldiers at risk who sought to save him from militant Islamists.

“Despite being given a dishonorable discharge and demotion from sergeant to private, he remains eligible for significant back pay,” the representatives’ document states.

Ultimately, military officials will determine whether or not Bergdahl will cash in for deserting his post, and the fact that he admitted his guilt of willfully abandoning his post complicates matters.

On the flip side of the coin, instead of receiving money, the deserter could possibly have to pay the Army back for compensation he should not have received.

“The military could determine that since he deserted the post, he might not be entitled at all – and could possibly even owe money to the army – if he is found to have been overpaid since his return,” Mikelionis pointed out. “Bergdahl narrowly avoided jail time after the judge spared him a prison sentence earlier this month. President Trump called the ruling a ‘complete and total disgrace.’”

Tracking his steps

The $300,000 would cover the five years that Bergdahl spent as the Taliban’s prisoner in Afghanistan.

“Bergdahl walked off of his base in June of 2009, and was set free as part of a prisoner swap in May of 2014,” Townhall reported. “While Bergdahl's release was initially celebrated, eventually he was charged to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. He pleaded guilty to both, but received no jail time. Instead, he was demoted from sergeant to private, fined and received a dishonorable discharge.”

A G-1 spokesman indicated that the amount of Bergdahl’s compensation has not yet been calculated due to the fact that the legal proceedings that began after his 2014 homecoming have been delayed.

“Based upon the results of trial, the Army is reviewing Sgt. Bergdahl’s pay and allowances,” Lt. Col. Randy Taylor informed the Army Times. “His final pay and allowances will be determined in accordance with DoD policy and Army regulation.”

It is also a possibility that Bergdahl could just receive his base Army pay for his time spent in captivity.

A law against rewarding deserters

Above and beyond the letter signed by 100 members of Congress, a piece of legislation is looking to be passed that could make it illegal for deserters to be compensated for cowardice.

“Rep. Steve Pearce’s bill would prohibit the military from compensating troops found guilty of desertion,” The Washington Times reported. “The New Mexico Republican’s bill would instead give any backpay and other benefits due to a deserter to the families of anyone killed or wounded on search and rescue missions.”

Pearce wants to make sure that the likes of Bergdahl never see a penny of taxpayer money for betraying his or her fellow soldiers.

“Under no circumstances should a man found guilty of desertion – who endangered military personnel for five years looking for him – be eligible to receive taxpayer dollars,” Pearce argued, according to the Times.

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