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Friends claim Bergdahl was discharged from Coast Guard in '06 for psych reasons

Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. Army sergeant captured in Afghanistan and held for nearly five years before being traded for five top Taliban operatives, was discharged from the Coast Guard before he joined the Army, Fox News confirmed.

An Army spokesman did not confirm reports that Bergdahl's discharge was due to psychological reasons or elaborate on the circumstances leading to his ouster in 2006. 

"We did confirm that Bergdahl was administratively discharged from the USCG prior to his enlistment to the U.S. Army,” the spokesman said.

But the Washington Post reported that it obtained a journal and emails Bergdahl wrote that seemed to paint the picture of a troubled young man.

“I’m worried,” Bergdahl wrote in journals before he deployed that were obtained by the Post. “The closer I get to ship day, the calmer the voices are. I’m reverting. I’m getting colder. My feelings are being flushed with the frozen logic and the training, all the unfeeling cold judgment of the darkness.”

“I will not lose this mind, this world I have deep inside,” he wrote a few pages later. “I will not lose this passion of beauty.”

Close friends of Bergdahl told the newspaper they were worried about his emotional health when he enlisted and after he apparently walked away from a military base in June 2009. Soldiers who served with him and tried to find him after he disappeared have described him as a loner who did not fit in.

Several days after he vanished, Bergdahl's close friend, Kim Harrison, received a box containing his journal, laptop computer, a copy of the novel “Atlas Shrugged,” military records and other items, Harrison told the Post. She said she shared the material with the newspaper because she was concerned the man she knew to be sensitive and vulnerable is being portrayed as a deserter whose actions put his fellow soldiers in peril.

“Trying to keep my self togeather,” Bergdahl, who intentionally misspelled words, wrote at another point. “I’m so tired of the blackness, but what will happen to me without it. Bloody hell why do I keep thinking of this over and over.”

Harrison and others close to Bergdahl told the Post his writing and the Coast Guard discharge raise questions about his mental fitness for military service and how he was accepted into the Army in 2008. Typically, a discharge for psychological reasons would disqualify a potential recruit.

According to Coast Guard records, Bergdahl left the service with an “uncharacterized discharge” after 26 days of basic training in early 2006. The term applies to people discharged before completing 180 days of service. No reason is specified in such discharges, and a Coast Guard representative said no further information was available.

A senior Army official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the Army was aware of a prior “administrative discharge” when Bergdahl enlisted. A separate Army official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Bergdahl would have required a waiver to enlist under such circumstances. The official could not immediately confirm that Bergdahl received one.

Several of Bergdahl's friends said Bergdahl told them he faked mental problems to get out of the Coast Guard, but said they thought at the time his problems were real.

“I said, ‘What happened?’” one friend told the Post. “He said he started to feign a psychological disorder, saying strange things to get out. I remember flat out calling him out on it — I said ‘there is something else going on.’ He said, ‘I chose to do it.’

“I know he believed he was in control, but I didn’t,” the friend added. “I sincerely doubted that.”

Two years later, Bergdahl told Harrison he had joined the Army. From basic training in Georgia, he began filling out the journal that he later mailed to Harrison.

“A wolf, mutt, hound, dog, I’ve been called these from my childhood,” he wrote in the first few pages. “But what good am I, my existence is that of exile. To live on the fringes of this world as a guard . . .”

Another entry cited by the Post: “Puddle of mud, skitsafrentic phyco.”

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