The mother and father of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl addressed the nation from Boise, Idaho on Sunday, just one day after their son was released from five years in captivity at the hands of the Taliban.
"I'm so looking forward to seeing your face after these past five-and-a-half years," said a tearful Jani Bergdahl, Bowe's mother, during Sunday's press conference. "Long, long years."
The parents thanked General Patrick Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the rest of the military team that helped arrange Bergdahl's release. In exchange for Bergdahl's freedom, five members of the Taliban were released from Guantanamo Bay. Although there has been some controversy around the details of the trade, Bergdahl's parents avoided wading into the partisan battle and stayed focused on expressing their gratitude for their son's return.
"We will never meet most of the people that were involved in this," said Bob Bergdahl, Bowe's father. Those we have met, we are extremely thankful."
Bob Bergdahl also noted that, while Bowe is now safely in U.S. custody, he has a long road ahead of him back to reintegration into civilian life. Neither of the former POW's parents have yet spoken to him, because they don't want to expose him to too many shocks at once.
“The recovery of Bowe Bergdahl is a work in progress,” said his father, who compared it to the gradual resurfacing of a deep sea diver. Too fast an ascent to the surface, said Bob Bergdahl, “could kill him.”
“I’m asking our friends and our community, and the media, to be patient and to be respectful,” he said. “Please recognize that we are still on a mission. We’re still on recovery mode ourselves.”