• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Gotcha, Bowe

Obviously the Bowe Bergdahl deal was a bad trade. In return for five terrorists, four of whom are expected to rejoin the fight, we got a deserter, and several men were killed trying to find the worthless piece of crap. But at least the military has ignored all the poltical hoopla from the White House and seems (surprisingly) to be doing the right thing:

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier who was recovered in Afghanistan last spring after five years in captivity, faces charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, according to his lawyer.

Eugene Fidell, Bergdahl’s attorney, told The Washington Post that his client was handed a charge sheet on Tuesday. Army officials announced they will provide an update in his case at 3:30 p.m. at Fort Bragg, N.C., but declined to discuss new developments ahead of the news conference.

Desertion I get, but "misbehavior before the enemy" is a new one on me. I've heard of "aiding and abetting" the enemy and providing "aid and comfort" for the enemy, but "misbehaving" before the enemy seems, I don't know, like the way you'd describe rowdy kids in the schoolyard. (Here it is described in Article 99 of the UCMJ, and it turns out to be more serious than the label might suggest.)

Then, alas, there is this:

But it still remains uncertain whether Sergeant Bergdahl will be court-martialed, the Defense Department official said.

Another question is whether the Army will give Sergeant Bergdahl an honorable discharge if he is found guilty of desertion. For members of the military, an honorable discharge is no small matter, and not getting one can hinder not only a veteran’s job prospects, but the entirety of how a service memberlook back on his or her career.

Perhaps given an honorable discharge even if found guilty of desertion? Nope, don't see that, although life in prison is probavbly a remote possibility as well. And lack of an honorable discharge could hinder his job prospects? Awww. Poor baby.


Fri, 03/27/2015 - 2:02pm

Wow. Talk about a rush to judgement.

1.)  Bergdahl has yet to be found guilty of anything.

2.)  Bergdahl is an American citizen with all the rights that fact bestows. Let it play out.

3.)  The real worthless pieces of crap are the people in the Bush administration that was charging wounded veterans for their meals while in Walter Reed hospital  recovering from lost limbs and brain injuries, taking money their families could have used to live on.  Cheney gets a free heart courtesy of US taxpayers while veterans and their families are treated like crap.  Won't spend any money on them but we'll call them "heroes". Guess it's a GOP budget buster to give a meal to a wounded vet but can't have a tax increase on the "job creators".  Just fricking pathatic.


Rebecc Mallory
Fri, 03/27/2015 - 7:00pm

Joe, what an amusing response.  The soldiers you referenced were out-patients at Walter Reed who were on a seperate food budget (commuted rations).   The Walter Reed policy prevented double dipping.

Sat, 03/28/2015 - 8:08am

Again, half truths from Becky. This from Salon.

"Until Jan. 3, 2005 soldiers back from war who were recovering at Walter Reed were eating for free. (Those who are confined to hospital beds still do.) But since then, when wounded soldiers getting long-term therapy at Walter Reed walked — or wheeled themselves — into the chow hall, Walter Reed started asking them to pull out their wallets.

The hospital was also ignoring Pentagon regulations that were supposed to prevent soldiers from having to pay too much to eat. Because of the change, some wounded soldiers lost about $250 a month.

This is how the soldiers were getting pinched: Depending on where they live, soldiers have the option of receiving a monthly allowance for food; officers get $183.99 per month, while enlisted soldiers get $267.18 per month. In Army talk that money is called the Basic Allowance for Subsistence.

Because that’s relatively little, the Pentagon caps the cost of eating on post to around $6 a day. Under that plan, a soldier knows he can always survive on that allowance if he sticks to eating in an Army chow hall. Walter Reed is an Army post with a chow hall.

After Jan. 3, the hospital started charging outpatients for the meals eaten in the dining hall there — but did not cap the cost, which runs at about $17 a day. That means that an enlisted soldier getting $267.18 per month for food from the military was now losing $258 each month, the difference between what the Army is giving them and what Walter Reed is charging them to eat. "

Becky uses typical GOP weasel words to justify screwing wounded soldiers. It should not matter what budget the food money comes from or whether they are in a hospital bed or out patient, as a nation they are owed at least food money for their sacrifice, not loopholes to get out of paying.

This wrong was righted in 2005  when a US Senator attached an amendment to a $82 billion emergency spending bill full of war money that would pay for the meals. The amendment applied to all military hospitals, not just Walter Reed.  That US Senator was Barack Obama. By the way, I find nothing amusing about wounded vets and their families being mistreated.

Rebecca Mallory
Mon, 03/30/2015 - 4:38pm

Salon?  Let's go to the source: http://navyadministration.tpub.com/14163/css/14163_61.htm

This is the official description of commuted rations and eligibility.

Mon, 03/30/2015 - 4:58pm

I was an out patient at Reed.  We were bussed up from Fort Meyer for our appointments and all of us were on comrats. No soldier paid out of his pocket ever.

Mon, 03/30/2015 - 8:22pm

Here is the information in the link Becky provided.

COMMUTED RATIONS/BASIC ALLOWANCE  FOR  SUBSISTENCE The term commuted rations/basic allowance for subsistence   (BAS)  is  defined  as  a  cash  allowance payable to enlisted personnel who are permitted to mess separately  in  lieu  of  rations-in-kind  when  messing facilities  are  available. Each month the mess treasurer submits a list of enlisted personnel subsisted in the mess on a locally prepared form in triplicate to the disbursing officer. The form  will  show  the  social  security  number,  name,  and period subsisted if different than that stated for the period reported for each member whose rations are being  commuted. On the basis of the information furnished on the locally prepared form, the disbursing officer prepares a Public Voucher, Standard Form 1034, that supports payment of enlisted personnel commuted rations to the mess. Rations commuted to the private mess are used only for  subsisting  the  enlisted  personnel.  Commuted  rations are not to be used in any manner whatsoever to support members’ mess bills, increase the value of mess shares, or any other mess operation except the direct cost of feeding  the  enlisted  personnel  whose  rations  are commuted to the mess.

The content of the provided link have no bearing whatsoever to the conversation.  Not one sentence addressing feeding wounded vets in hospitals.

But Becky misses the bigger point.  Why, whether it is legal or not, is it not OK to support wounded vets and their families.  These people have sacrifised beyond description so people like us can freely express opinions on these blogs. We collectively as a nation owe them that much. They have contributed more to this nation than the hedge fund managers who buy special exemptions in the tax code.

Tue, 03/31/2015 - 9:20am

Maybe this source is more to your liking.

In a disturbing revelation about the treatment of America's most severely wounded troops, Fox News has learned the military earlier this month decided to invalidate meal tickets and reduce hours for the sole dining facility in the Walter Reed building where they are recovering. 

The decision affects the Warrior Cafe located inside building 62, home to all multiple amputees and long-term, recovering patients at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

The decision would mean wounded warriors who would normally have a government-funded meal just down the hall would have to walk, wheel or limp nearly a half-mile across the Walter Reed campus to the temporary "food trailer" for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

"I mean it's called the Warrior Cafe, you would think it is for us," said Sgt. Josh Wetzel, who lost both his legs when he stepped on a pressure plate IED outside Kandahar, Afghanistan in May 2013. He's been recovering at Walter Reed since and has been a daily customer at the cafe. 


The status of the military's decision may be in flux. 

After Fox News submitted multiple inquiries with senior military officials earlier this week, the Pentagon responded late Wednesday. Lt. Col. Catherine Wilkinson, a Pentagon spokesman, told Fox News that Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of Defense for health affairs, has decided to reverse the changes. 

Yet so far, no patients at Walter Reed have been notified of that decision and there has been no formal announcement. 

"It makes a lot of people mad that they can't get into their wheelchair and wheel down to the Warrior Cafe," Wetzel said. "Now they have to wheel all the way across base to use their meal cards." 

'It's called the Warrior Cafe, you would think it is for us."

- Sgt. Josh Wetzel, who lost both legs in Afghanistan

Wetzel's wife Paige is nine months pregnant with their first child and is due this coming Monday. She says she's worried about how much time and effort her husband will have to spend seeking food between appointments, while she is in the maternity ward. 

"In my opinion it's a total independence thing," Paige said. "If I were to leave for a day or two I would know Josh could go right down the hall, feed himself and he'd be fine. Now the only alternative is to leave our building." 

Walter Reed has already closed the cafe on weekends. Paige says the Army offered to have Josh order his meals in advance. "They explained that we could use our squad leaders to order meals for the weekend, but it has to go through the squad leader (and then) through the first sergeant," Paige said. "So how do you plan for that to make sure you get what you need for the weekend?" 

In addition to the weekend closure, the base also decided to reduce the cafe's hours from 60 to 50 a week. Instead of closing at 8 p.m. it now closes at 6 p.m., making it difficult for those getting occupational therapy to get there in time. 

The patients of building 62, many of whom have endured 50 surgeries or more and are expected to spend up to two years recovering at Walter Reed, were told of the decision to end meal tickets at the Cafe in an Aug. 7 text message from their squad leader. The message explained that the changes to the meal tickets will take place on Sept. 3. That message was followed by a heated town hall meeting last week. 

"I was very upset," said Carolee Ryan. She is the mother of Marine Staff Sgt. Thomas McRae, a triple amputee, partially blinded, single father whose wife left him after he sustained his injuries in January of 2012 in Sangin, Afghanistan. 

She was one of the mothers who made her voice heard during that town hall meeting. 

"I felt it was a slap in my son's face as a service member. As many times as he has been deployed -- what they were doing to him was a disservice," she said. 

Paige Wetzel said the families felt the decision was made without their input and for reasons that are hard to understand.  "It felt like the money had been deemed appropriate somewhere else and I don't see how that could happen," Wetzel said. 

Officials in the Pentagon and at Walter Reed did not respond to questions about why the changes were made, but congressional sources with knowledge of the decision say it was based on concerns that government funds for the warrior meals were being misappropriated. They said that because the cafe is listed as a "self sustaining" business, it is not allowed to receive government subsidies, such as the meal tickets and appropriated funds. So the military decided the cafe could no longer accept the government meal cards. 

The families and patients have a slightly different take. Many of them who spoke to Fox News are under the impression that the government doesn't like paying for the higher prices that come with the better food. 

"The food quality is not nearly as good (at the trailer) as it is at the Warrior Cafe," Josh Wetzel said. "The Warrior Cafe has something for everyone like a grill, hot food, salad bars, sandwiches and drinks." 

Carolee Ryan says the trailers specialize in "processed food." 

Walter Reed plans to eventually replace the trailers with a new cafeteria, though it's not expected to be completed for months. But even the new cafeteria will be a haul for the wounded occupants of building 62. For now, Josh's best options are to pay for a meal using his modest Army paycheck or to walk on his prosthetics to the trailer. 

"I would say it's close to half a mile ... for guys who are on their wheelchair or using prosthetic legs -- you know that is a long way to go," he said. 

Adding insult to injury, there are only two handicap-accessible tables in the trailer, and neither the bathroom nor the exit doors has push-button access. 

"It's quote unquote handicap accessible, but for guys who have serious mobility injuries -- like they can't use their hands that well -- you know it is tough for them," Josh Wetzel said. 

Thomas McRae's mother says the whole situation breaks her heart. She said her son told her he would consider going hungry before wheeling himself to the trailers. 

"Now I get it," Ryan said. "Back in the Vietnam War when all the men and women were coming home (I understand) how they felt ... and I didn't think it would come to this."

Jennifer Griffin currently serves as a national security correspondent for FOX News Channel . She joined FNC in October 1999 as a Jerusalem-based correspondent. 


Tue, 03/31/2015 - 10:38am

Joe you really dont get comrats do you?

And dont forget that Obama wants to "give " us a boost to 6% of base pay for retirement......by cutting some of our retirement checks 20%.  

Tue, 03/31/2015 - 2:28pm

Eric, no need to be a drama queen... this in todays Military Times.

"The push to reform military pay and benefits picked up steam Monday when the White House signaled support for the slate of controversial proposals that call for changing the military retirement and health care systems.

But President Obama stopped short of endorsing the 15 specific recommendations that the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission sent to Capitol Hill in January.

The recommendations would shrink the size of military pensions by 20 percent and create new investment accounts for all troops. They also call for ending Tricare in its current form and instead offering military families insurance policies similar to those available to civilians." 

The original proposal for military pension cuts were made a year ago in the Ryan-Murray budget.  Besides you seem to forget that congress appropriates funds, all any President can do is sign the appropriations bill into law. Mitch, the Tan Man, and Teddy Cruz reminded us of that during the sequester a year ago. So to summarize, nothing has been decided and Obama has not cut your pension as you claim

Yes, I do get comrats, just posting Fox news take. Their words not mine.