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VFW Members React to Release of Bowe Bergdahl
AFGHANISTAN -- New video of the release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has been posted by the Taliban.
The American was handed over to Special Forces in Afghanistan after five years in captivity, in exchange for the release of five Taliban leaders from the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
Bergdahl is accused of deserting his post, and perhaps defecting to the enemy, but the White House says they made the prisoner exchange now because Bergdahl was close to death. Now, based partly on the video, the claim is under fire.
Bergdahl is receiving a psychological evaluation at a U.S. base in Germany.
"Some of these senators are now denouncing the very same efforts that secured Sgt. Bergdahl's release," said Democratic Sen. Harry Reid. "It is clear they are worried his release could be seen as a victory for President Obama."
Critics say another video, showing five terrorists being released from Guantanamo is now backfiring on Obama.
How are Dayton-area veterans reacting to Bergdahl's release, and the prisoner exchange?
At a quiet VFW Post 6861 in Fairborn, some loud opinions are forming.
"Back in the day if you were a deserter you got shot," said Joseph Cabiness, who joined the Army two days before his 17th birthday.
"He was wrong what he did," Cabiness said on hearing the story break on the news. "They shouldn't have done what they did to get him back."
"When I first heard about it I didn't understand everything but you know what, I thought it was a bad trade," said Navy veteran Avory Blanton.
"We shot deserters at one time. Why would we give up five prisoners that are terrorists for somebody who doesn't even care about us?" Blanton asked.
Blanton said he was shot at every night he was stationed in Vietnam during the late 1960s. He recalls his Navy experience teaching him to fight or die. That's why he can't fathom how a soldier might turn on his comrades.
"When you're in the military you become close," Blanton said. "Only thing we have is each other and that's how it is."
About the video posted of Bergdahl's release, Cabienss said, "Ridiculous! He looked in pretty good health to me ... for being a captive for five years!"
In exchange for Bergdahl, CNN is reporting that the trade for the five Guantanamo prisoners was brokered through the Qatari government, and included a one-year travel ban out of the country for those men.
After Cabiness' 26-year Army career, he said what makes him most angry is who was traded for the American sergeant's safe return.
"OK, they're gonna hold them for a year, but what happens after that year? Are they gonna get back into the game again? So do we got to kill a bunch more Americans to go find them again?"
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