Bergdahl Avoids Prison; Trump Calls It a 'Disgrace'
Soldier will get a dishonorable discharge for abandoning his post
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 3, 2017 10:55 AM CDT
Updated Nov 3, 2017 12:30 PM CDT
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Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl arrives for a pretrial hearing at Fort Bragg, N.C., in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Ted Richardson, File)

(Newser) – He faced life in prison, but Bowe Bergdahl will serve no jail time at all for abandoning his military post in Afghanistan and endangering the troops sent to search for him. Instead, he will receive a dishonorable discharge, the New York Times reports. The military judge in the case also reduced his rank from sergeant to private and ordered him to forfeit $1,000 a month in pay for 10 months. Judge Col. Jeffery Nance, who CNN notes Bergdahl picked over a jury, didn't provide reasoning for the sentencing. "Sgt. Bergdahl has looked forward to today for a long time," his civilian attorney says. "He has lost nearly a decade of his life." Bergdahl, who pleaded guilty last month, has a job offer from an animal sanctuary and may get a gig helping a military official design survival training, the AP reports.

While a life sentence was on the table and prosecutors were asking for 14 years in military prison, Bergdahl's defense argued he had been punished enough during five years of tortuous captivity at the hands of the Taliban and "probably should not have been in the Army" due to an undiagnosed severe personality disorder. President Trump had called for the "dirty rotten traitor" to be executed in comments Nance called "disturbing." (The judge rejected a request to dismiss the trial over Trump's comments, but said he would factor them into sentencing.) Following Friday's sentencing, the president tweeted: "The decision on Sergeant Bergdahl is a complete and total disgrace to our Country and to our Military." Bergdahl is appealing his dishonorable discharge, which must be upheld by a general and the US Army Court of Criminal Appeals. If it stands, Bergdahl will lose most or all of his veterans' benefits.

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