One hundred members of Congress have signed a letter urging the U.S. Army not to award Private Bowe Bergdahl a possible $300,000 in back pay after he was given a dishonorable discharge and demoted for deserting his base in Afghanistan in 2009.
“We are writing to encourage the United States Army not to award Private Bowe Bergdahl any back pay prior to or subsequent to separation from the United States Army,” read the letter obtained by Fox News.
The initiative was spearheaded by Republican Arkansas Rep. Rick Crawford and signed by 99 other members of Congress. “As Members of Congress committed to our servicemen, servicewomen, and veterans, we understand the incredible sacrifice that is required of those in uniform ... With that said, it is our firm belief Private Bergdahl should not be awarded back pay.”
Bergdahl could reportedly be entitled to as much as $300,000 in compensation for the time he spent in Taliban captivity after he deserted his post in 2009 and was captured. All captive servicemen are entitled to receive a compensation worth around $150,000 in addition to the basic pay they were supposed to receive while in captivity.
“Despite being given a dishonorable discharge and demotion from sergeant to private, he remains eligible for significant back pay,” the letter added.
It remains up to the military officials to ultimately decide whether the deserter should receive the pay. Bergdahl's admission of guilt in court complicated the issue, with a military official telling the Army Times that “In order to figure out what he’s owed, you’re basically going to have to start from that point of captivity.”
The military could determine that since he deserted the post, he might not be entitled at all – and could possibly even owe money to the army, if he is found to have been overpaid since his return.
Bergdahl narrowly avoided jail time after the judge spared him a prison sentence earlier this month. President Trump called the ruling a “complete and total disgrace.”