SAN ANTONIO — In the moments after Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl arrived back in the United States following five years of captivity by the Taliban in Afghanistan, he was nervous but “looked good” and saluted a commanding officer who welcomed him home, military officials said Friday.
Bergdahl is working daily with health professionals to regain a sense of normalcy and move forward with his life, officials added.
Bergdahl’s family has not joined him since he arrived at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston after midnight Friday, and Army officials would not say when relatives might show up.
In a statement read at a news conference Friday, Bergdahl’s parents said they “are overjoyed that their son has returned to the United States” but asked for privacy.
Maj. Gen. Joseph P. DiSalvo, who greeted Bergdahl upon his arrival from an Army medical facility in Germany, said he exchanged a few words with Bergdahl after a three-vehicle convoy met him.
“He appeared just like any sergeant would when they see a two-star general, a little bit nervous. But he looked good and saluted and had good deportment,” DiSalvo said at the news conference, adding that Bergdahl was in stable condition.
Officials said there is no timeline for the final step in Bergdahl’s reintegration process. “We will proceed at his pace,” said Col. Bradley Poppen, an Army psychologist.
As far as Bergdahl’s interaction with relatives, Poppen said a soldier typically determines when to reunite with his or her family. Poppen declined to release further details, citing the family’s request for privacy. After the news conference, officials said they did not know if Bergdahl has spoken with his family.
Military officials declined to give details on what Bergdahl might remember about his capture or what he knows about the public uproar surrounding his capture and release.
In the short time he has been back on U.S. soil, Bergdahl, who can walk on his own, has been on a bland diet and has shown a fondness for peanut butter, officials said.
Bergdahl arrived speaking English, though officials indicated his speech had been impacted from being in captivity for so long.
“Overall our assessment is that he did not have the opportunity the past five years to practice and speak his English,” Wool said.
Poppen said that during his captivity, Bergdahl had no control over any aspect of his life, including what and when he could eat. “So one of the concepts is to get him a sense of predictability and control of his environment.”