An empty chair on display at a Veterans Day ceremony in Twin Falls, Idaho, on Monday symbolized the costs military families face when loved ones have been killed or declared missing in action.
A native of Sun Valley, Idaho, Sgt. Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban in 2009 while serving as an infantryman. In exchange for his freedom, the Taliban have demanded $1 million and the release of Taliban militants at the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Earlier this year, U.S. officials and Taliban representatives were reported widely to have been in discussions to swap prisoners, but the effort was shelved. Sgt. Bergdahl also attempted to escape but was recaptured.
The source, who requested anonymity because of the political sensitivity of the matter, said the family has been in a “giant waiting game, like so many active-duty family members.”
It was “unbearable” for them that the Afghan War was not a bigger part of the presidential election, the source said.
“It’s hard to bear. This is the price that is paid by a nation that goes to war,” the source said.
“[They wonder] what is our policy? What is our strategy? What’s the timetable? [They] feel kind of abandoned by the public and by a lot of what goes on in Washington.”
Artie Muller, founder and executive director of Rolling Thunder, which promotes full accountability for prisoners of war and troops missing in action, accused the government of doing too little to recover Sgt. Bergdahl and three missing contractors from the Afghanistan War.
“They released some of the prisoners that we have in Guantanamo Bay and gave them back. Well, why did we give them back if you’re not giving our guy back?” he argued.
Over the past decade, the Defense Department has begun to increase the success of recovering remains of fallen service members thanks to improving DNA identification technology, but Mr. Muller said the Pentagon must do more to find the ones who still might be alive.
“Some of them were still left behind. Well, did they die? Are they still being held?” Mr. Muller asked.
More than 83,000 Americans have been declared missing from World Wars I and II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. James Gregory said, “Our hearts go out to the Bergdahl family and friends.View Entire Story
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Kristina Wong is a national security reporter for The Washington Times, covering defense, foreign policy and intelligence affairs. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
A round eye’s guide into the Chinese world.
This column will cover anything that has anything remotely to do with the game of baseball, from the game itself to mid-summer trades to offseason moves.
Great discoveries in the world of restaurants and chefs fulfill the quest for delicious food and cooking.
Television commentary, reviews, news and nonstop DVR catch-up by Lisa King Doloff and friends.
World's Ugliest Dog Contest
Spelling Bee finale
Marines train Afghan soldiers
Rolling Thunder 2013
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal