Bob Bergdahl, father of the recently released Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, thanked the government and supporters on Sunday, and said he and his wife are focused on their son's recovery.
They haven't spoken to their son, but his father said Bowe should listen to a “devoted team” that’s working with him in Germany.
“Listen to their instructions. Listen to them. They are hand-picked people,” Bob Bergdahl said. "They are here to help you."
"I'm so proud of how far you were able to go to help the Afghan people, and I think you have succeeded," he said at the press conference, crying.
President Obama announced on Saturday that the Taliban released Bowe Bergdahl, who had been held for nearly five years by the Taliban after being captured in Afghanistan. Then came multiple reports that U.S. officials released five Taliban members from Guantánamo Bay. Republicans have argued that such a precedent could incentivize terrorists to kidnap more Americans.
Bob Bergdahl thanked federal and state government officials for their help in getting their son released, as well as their friends and family and "biker dudes and dudettes" who supported his son.
He said he hasn't called his son, equating the recovery process to that of a diver coming up for air too fast.
"It could kill him," he said.
"Now I want to talk about the future, starting right now. The recovery and reintegration of Bowe Bergdahl is a work in process, and I want to really convey that because it isn't over for us. In many ways, it's just beginning," Bob Bergdahl said.
"Please recognize that we are still on a mission,” he added. “We are still on recovery mode ourselves, let alone concerned about how Bowe is going to come back and what we need to work on.
"Someday, there will be a time for interviews and books and whatever, and I have a lot to say, and I know Bowe is going to have a lot to say about this — but that's still a distant future thing, and I won't let things get in the way of Bowe's recovery."
Bob Bergdahl also talked to The Guardian's Sean Smith in the lead-up to his son's release.
"I'm a father who wants his son back," he says in a video on the newspaper's website. "I wake up each morning, and my first thought is my son is still a prisoner of War in Afghanistan, and I need to do something about that."
"I don't think anybody can relate to the prisoners at Guantánamo more, I don't think, than our family because it's the same thing," he adds. "My son is a prisoner of war. And wars end with reconciliation and negotiations with the enemy, and prisoners of war should be part of that dialogue and I insist — I insist — that it will be."