Response to Episodes 7 & 8 of Serial 2

From listening to Episodes 7 & 8 of Serial Two, many aspects of Bowe Bergdahl’s past come to light. There are many factors that led to Bergdahl’s decision to join the Army. Perhaps, they weren’t for the best reasons, but he did have his reasons. The fact that his past was not regarded in its entirety is something that the Army should be faulted for, something they need to correct.

The way it seems is that Bergdahl had a breakdown, a panic attack during his little time in the Coast Guard. Bergdahl claims he faked it, that he didn’t feel like the Coast Guard was right for him. Of course, that’s Bergdah;’s words against everyone else’s—even against professionals in the psychology field. Granted, if we don’t believe Bergdahl about his mental health, his actions in the Coast Guard, why would we, as listeners, listen to anything or believe anything he said? There would be no reason to. If the story has gone this far and Bergdahl has done some cray things, but we listen anyway, why would faking a panic attack seem so unbelievable? This soldier left his station, risking his life to protect his men, and we’re supposed to believe that the same man gave up and had a panic attack over an apparent nose bleed? That doesn’t make sense.

That being said, it was documented that Bergdahl had mental health issues. Clearly, he does after various reports. But does that make him incompetent? Does that mean he shouldn’t have been accepted into the Army? Maybe. Bergdahl’s friend Kayla said that he was a gentleman, that she thought the Coast Guard would be good for him, not war, but helping people. After his experience in the Coast Guard, Bergdahl mentioned not feeling like it was the right fit for him, that he felt that joining the Army would be good for him’; it was where he belonged. Based on previous episodes, it is evident that Bergdahl at least somewhat belonged in the Army. His platoon members said that he was essentially the posterchild for soldiers, that he was the best and always read every guideline and handbook. He knew more than most of the men in his platoon, maybe he knew more than his superiors. The will and want to join the Army to prove himself is what makes Bergdahl’s decision to join the Army valid and fit for service.

The U.S. Military should have more than a will and want to serve as a guideline for entering the Army. The system pushed Bergdahl through, waiving particular records with Bergdahl asking for them to be overlooked, to not be judged by his past, and he wasn’t. Bergdahl, like many other soldiers, had a mental health issue—that would most likely worsen after his mission overseas. A great deal of soldiers come home and they aren’t the same as when they left; they have many mental health issues, which they develop overseas. Maybe Bergdahl wasn’t too far off. The guidelines for entry into the military need to be more thorough. They need to take everything into account, even the past that Bergdahl wanted to be kept unjudged. Even though it was the Coast Guard, his actions still should have been taken into account, because it was still part of the armed forces. When Bergdahl’s friend Kayla heard he was in the Army, she freaked out, because she didn’t think he was strong enough to endure the Coast Guard, let alone a branch more dangerous like the Army. A man’s character should also be taken into account before he’s accepted into the Army; they should be put in high stress situations and observed, judged on their reactions. Anyone can shoot a gun, but it takes more than that to keep a proper mindset, to not go crazy. Of course, Bergdahl’s case was a special one considering he left his post and was captured by the Taliban, but it may have been different if his documents were thoroughly read. Codes were without a doubt violated when Bergdahl was recruited after the incident at the Coast Guard. The men in the armed forces focus so much on recruiting men, on getting all the men to fight that they can, that they don’t focus on the quality and well-being of the man who they’re giving a gun to and putting in harm’s way.

Based off everything said in the episodes, Bergdahl definitely had a place in the Army. The question is: was putting him on an overseas mission really in the best interest of not only Bergdahl and his men, but the Army as a whole? Maybe not. . .

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