BOISE – After five years apart, Bob and Jani Bergdahl will finally reunite with their son in San Antonio, Texas.
Bowe Bergdahl’s reintegration process will take as long as needed, according to military professionals stationed at Brooke Army Medical Center where Bowe’s next stop will be after his medical recovery process in Germany is done.
After a whirlwind weekend of events, flying from Washington D.C and back to Idaho, Bob and Jani Bergdahl told the media Sunday afternoon about their immediate plans.
“We are going to go get some sleep,” said Bob. “We are going to rally our families. We are going to check with our people and we are going to do the next step of the phase.”
However Bowe’s next step is a bit more complicated.
Colonel Hans Bush, a public affairs spokesman for the United States Army South and Brooke Army Medical Center, told KTVB by phone Sunday that Bowe will next enter into what’s known as Phase Three.
Phase Three, as explained by Colonel Bush comes after phases one and two; which is the initial rescue that took place Saturday in Eastern Afghanistan and then the medical debriefing at Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany.
“All of that takes a very deliberate process that is done through a collection of experts so that we can provide these folks a soft landing,” explained Colonel Bush.
The reintegration in Texas will take as long as needed and Bush says there is no timeline.
“With a returnee who’s been living captive or living hostage, they have been basically held against their will for months or years," said Bush. "That has a very deep psychological effect and going from that to being back in the United States with complete freedom, that can cause some mental whiplash."
There are several key parts of this next phase in Texas: top medical care, psychology support and in Bowe's case SERE (survival evasion resistance escape) psychologists who are experts at helping former captives transition back to freedom.
There will also need to be family support, and Bob and Jani Bergdahl already know they will be there with their son every step of the way.
“Cause it isn’t over for us,” said Bob. “In many ways it’s just beginning for Jani and I and our family.”
Brooke Army Medical Center is all too familiar with working with prisoners held in captivity.
In 2008, three defense contractors who had been held in Columbia for over five years came to the facility to heal.
“They had to contend with being held in very remote jungle conditions where they weren’t hearing English for over five years, to being back in the United States speaking English and returning to an American diet and American health care,” Bush explained.
Sunday, the Bergdahls made it clear that they know Bowe's recovery will be long and challenging, but they plan to tackle it head on and focus on family.
“The recovery and the reintegration of Bowe Bergdahl is a work in progress,” said Bob. “And I won’t let things get in the way of Bowe’s recovery.”