Bergdahl on full Army pay pending probe

 

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is currently on full pay, while he recovers, officials said Wednesday, though he might end up returning money to the government if an ongoing investigation sides against him.

Bergdahl also got paid for some time after he was captured by the Taliban in 2009, authorities with the Army said during a background briefing, though they would not confirm an exact length of time.

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That pay was deposited into his account for some time until the account was deemed inactive, they said.

Bergdahl might be eligible for the pay he did not receive after that, depending on the outcome of the investigation, the senior Army officials said.

Bergdahl's pay was restarted after he was recovered from the Taliban, since he is deemed to be on medical leave.

"When he came out of captivity, his pay forward has been restarted because we couldn't send — there wasn't a place to send it there for awhile, so yes, his pay has been restarted, absolutely," said one Army official.

He is currently undergoing outpatient care and reintegration at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.

The White House swapped five high-level Taliban commanders for the 28-year-old Army sergeant on May 31, sparking anger from lawmakers from whom the swap was kept secret, and from those who say the release jeopardizes national security.

The Army has begun an investigation into the circumstances of Bergdahl's disappearance. Some soldiers who served with him say he deserted his post, which would be punishable under the military's code of justice.

If he is found to have been absent without leave, or to have deserted his post, he may have to pay back money earned while in captivity, Army officials said.

He was being paid for "a majority" of the five years he was in captivity, Army officials said.

"He was getting his pay and entitlements" said a senior Army official. "It was accruing in an account for him."

AWOL would mean Bergdahl intended to come back, while desertion would mean he planned to leave permanently. Both would be punishable under the military's code of justice.

That investigation started two weeks ago and is due in 60 days, officials said. Bergdahl will be questioned by the Army's investigating officer after his reintegration is completed in a couple of weeks.

Investigators have not been specifically tasked with whether any fellow soldiers died while looking for him, they said.

Bergdahl has not yet implicated himself in any wrongdoing, officials said. If he were to do so before being interviewed by the investigating officer, he would be read his rights and given an attorney, they said.

A previous Army investigation into the circumstances of Bergdahl's disappearance was "inconclusive," one Army official said of the classified investigation.

During his time in captivity, Bergdahl was deemed "missing/captured," which allowed him to continue earning payment until his account was determined inactive.

Officials would not comment on whether he has spoken to his parents yet, or his mental state, but said Bergdahl has been "cooperative to date."