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Graves Bill Bans Back Pay for Bowe Bergdahl

December 5, 2017
Press Release
“When Bergdahl deserted his post, he turned his back on all US service members, knowingly jeopardized the lives of the soldiers he abandoned and of those who searched for him, and betrayed the trust of the American people. Paying Berghdal would be a disgrace matched only by his actions.”

Washington, DC – Congressmen Garret Graves (R-LA) and Tim Walz (D-MN) recently introduced legislation to prevent Army Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl from being awarded any back pay or allowances from the United States Army.  Last month, Bergdahl pled guilty to desertion and misbehavior rather than face trial for leaving his post while deployed to Afghanistan in 2009. He will not serve any jail time, and the Army is currently reviewing the issue of awarding Bergdahl back pay. Under current Army regulation, Bergdahl’s status was “absent from his post without authority” for the one day he abandoned his post.  After being captured by the Taliban, his detainment is classified as “missing-captured,” a time period for which the Army may decide to award him with back pay and allowances.  President Obama made the decision to exchange five Guantanamo Bay detainees for Bergdahl in 2014.

“Bergdahl’s actions put the lives of countless service members in jeopardy and directly caused serious injuries that many will live with for the rest of their lives. The idea of Bergdahl receiving any back pay is absurd – those funds should go to the service members and families affected by the search that followed his desertion. Putting others in harm’s way is something the Army should take very seriously, which is why I recently joined many colleagues in requesting the Army not award Bergdahl any back pay. Additionally, we introduced this legislation to prohibit funds from being awarded to Bergdahl for his time detained. Under our legislation, those funds would instead be redirected to the service members who bravely searched for Bergdahl,” says Graves.

The bill has bipartisan support including co-sponsor Congressman Tim Walz of Minnesota, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

"To succeed and return home safely, our men and women in uniform count on each other to do their jobs and entrust in each other their lives," Walz said. “This legislation is the least we can do to honor the brave service members who risked their lives in search of Mr. Bergdahl."

The term “absent from his post without authority” doesn’t properly convey the seriousness of this offense.  Graves added, “The U.S. military represents the very best of our country. Bergdahl’s decision to abandon his post is an insult to his fellow service members and should not be rewarded in any manner.”