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Army: Bergdahl on a routine, reading media reports

Jun. 17, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Brooke Army Medical Center
Brooke Army Medical Center is shown on Thursday in San Antonio. (David J. Phillip/The Associated Press)
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Four days after arriving at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has adjusted to a “regular” routine, officials said.

“The reintegration of Sgt. Bergdahl continues here,” said Col. Hans Bush, a spokesman for Army South, in a statement released Tuesday. “He has acclimated to his time change from Germany. He is eating and sleeping on a routine schedule. His debriefings and medical care continue. He is gradually being provided media coverage about him.”

Bergdahl arrived June 13 at Fort Sam Houston from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany to begin phase three of his reintegration.

Bergdahl disappeared June 30, 2009, from Combat Outpost Mest-Lalak in Paktika province, Afghanistan.

He was held captive for almost five years and was freed May 31 in exchange for five Taliban prisoners who were being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

On Monday, the Army announced that Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, the deputy commanding general of I Corps, will lead an investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding Bergdahl’s disappearance and capture.

Army South, which has its headquarters at Fort Sam Houston, is the parent organization of the Personnel Recovery Coordination Cell. The PRCC is the Army’s executive agent for planning, leading and coordinating reintegration efforts across the force.

When three American hostages were rescued after more than five years of captivity in the jungles of Colombia, the PRCC helped them adjust to their newfound freedom.

The staff at the PRCC had planned and rehearsed for years for the return of the three Defense Department contractors. Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell and Tom Howes were taken hostage by the notorious terrorist group FARC after their plane crashed on Feb. 13, 2003, in Colombia.

Just as they did for the three men, the PRCC rehearsed for Bergdahl’s return, Army South spokeswoman Arwen Consaul previously told Army Times.

“We’ve been practicing every six months since he’s been taken,” she said.

Phase three of the reintegration process will include medical and psychological evaluations, debriefings and family support, she said.

“There’s no timeline to it,” Consaul said. “It’s however long Sergeant Bergdahl needs to help him resume a normal life.”

The key to this phase of the reintegration is giving control back to the returnee, Consaul said.

“They’ve been in an environment where they’ve had no control,” she said. “They’ve been told what to eat, where to sleep. We’re giving them back control of their lives.”

Gonsalves, Stansell and Howes, the three men held captive by FARC, stayed with the PRCC team at Joint Base San Antonio for 10 days.

The men, who were rescued July 2, 2008, underwent medical and psychological evaluations. They also were coached on seemingly simple everyday things, such as being apart from one another and ordering dinner from a menu.

The men started with pre-prepared meals to choosing from a menu, to going to the hospital cafeteria and, finally, to a restaurant.

During their first days at Joint Base San Antonio, the men were put in the same hospital room. They were later asked if they wanted private rooms and then eventually asked if they were ready to move into quarters with their families, as they hadn’t been apart for five years.

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