DiscoverSerialS02 Episode 08: Hindsight, Part 2
S02 Episode 08: Hindsight, Part 2

S02 Episode 08: Hindsight, Part 2

Update: 2016-02-1922
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Woulda, coulda, shoulda…

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previously on cereal the going rate is very much gentlemen the is the traditional cap do you think he's lying home and then all of sudden he shows up in his uniform he the the the news the the the from This American Life and the BBC Chicago it's cereal one story told by week and Sarah came the the I think the following will likely be a question at those court martial the Army screw up by accepting go by deploying him to Afghanistan just ur mind u Bo is separated from the Coast Guard in two thousand and six after became overwhelmed and had a breakdown during basic training the army in order to enlist him two years later would have to waive its usual standards which are dead to the question actually is to the Army recruiting process work like it was supposed to oppose separation from the Coast Guard wasn't labeled a psych discharge on paper but that's essentially what it was so to the Army missed something we talk to retired Army psychiatrist Doctor Ellsworth Cameron Ritchie she was deployed all over to his chief of forensic psychiatry and also of inpatient psychiatry at Walter Reed and she was psychiatry consultant to the Army surgeon general the top mental health advocacy position in the Army Doctor Rich's assessment of how all this went down with Bo then she got the whole thing sounded pretty normal standard practice the fact that the Army didn't have all the details about Bo's hospitalization in the Coast Guard not uncommon she said getting access to more detailed medical information especially between branches of the military this case Coast Guard and Army was hard because the military's network system wasn't so hot information sharing was incomplete and she also didn't feel like anything we told her about those Coast Guard situation would have been dis qualifying even if the army had known and had sent him from mental health evaluation as the Coast Guard doctor recommended and even if Bo had been assessed by say an Army psychiatrist Doctor G said it probably would have been one session and unless he showed obvious outward signs or something like that you're really depending on the potential recruit a self report any psychological problems so it's quite possible but would have been located regardless at the end of the day Doctor G told us the best assessment for whether someone's going to make it in the Army doesn't happen in the recruitment office anyway happens during the sustained high pressure Test of Basic Training and Bo did really well in Army basic training so that's one view now for a second opinion from where the ball is dropped this is Doctor Michael Bell the Venus he's a clinical psychologist he's an Air Force for about seven half years he worked in the sear program which teaches survival evasion resistance and escape he knows Bo in fact although it has led this year psych team that helps re integrate rafters rescue those first few weeks when Bo was at the hospital in Germany two things all the nose has permission from bow to talk to me about their conversations and also he was not officially bows doctor his job was to re integrated not diagnose her anything never even saw those medical record back then so is not breaking any doctor patient confidentiality of three things I guess the last being all that he knows cares about them is not dispassionate on the question of what happens to him although he misses you as at the Army recruiter should have looked harder and go situation should've asked more questions before signing him up even if the critter didn't have the particulars of those Coast Guard discharge in front of them or information about those hospitalization he says the mere fact that Bo had been separated at all from a branch of the military bags more scrutiny revealed to get separated from local daily the recruiter would yield more concerned about that and we're taking maybe a few steps further to say Hey let's make sure the evidence that we went to get in to the separation like those tells you just on its face is that for whatever reason this person couldn't hack it in Basic Training and the Army recruiters job is to send the potential recruit straight back into basic training in Bo's case the same situation he washed out of two years earlier finally Paulina says Bo told them that the recruiter didn't know about his problems in the Coast Guard because Bo says he told the recruiter was that he was afraid not to time since you know that a good idea to keep things from the government no one knew anything at all and everything that was the aggressor he told us exactly what happened which broke down in training and now with the hospital and the US in America and thirty s The only thing is part of his application Bo did a test that he had not consulted with a behavioral health care provider in the last seven years General Dahl asked him about that most of the Coast Guard treatment quote wouldn't have triggered the idea of consulting a psychologist and dull found that to be consistent with those other paperwork since on his medical history form go check yes to the question of whether he'd ever received counseling of any type he said he was thinking of counseling he had when he was ten years old General Dahl concluded that the Army recruiter on paper did everything he was suppose to read the codes follow the regulations but in a footnote all seem to agree that the system isn't good enough that both situation probably should have been looked at more carefully he wrote that when you're deciding whether to re enlist someone few things are more relevant than a prior separation he added quote it seems inadequate that we would rely on an interview an applicant statement to explain the details of prior service and not review the separation action unquote and where was Bo's head at this time it's funny once you hear how both thought about the military why you wanted to join Hadley it does help explain why he decided to walk of his post the good you did you think you're going to be a career soldier the where the uh my my it was the the older the old you back they're going to be forewarned to the E U know a hundred supporters I wanted to be a samurai motor biker boy are the what if he killed more than hey I was who the biter on it they love the idea is basically the right the whole of Greece leaving Isaac and he was cool to watch his movies later in his box the Asian warriors especially samurai learned about the shadow code which stresses honor and loyalty and self sacrifice the most childhood bedroom his dad kept a collector set of old army manuals way up high on a bookshelf to the style of military history the book lined up there got the books down even when he couldn't read it study the pictures the the the folder in my mind the very much less a tree but that's where the public because I wanted to be a soldier but the only option that would be the ideal soldier and one from history fights for cars here she is completely personally committed to that soldier rallies behind military leaders that he or she trusts the modern soldier turns out have no choice about those essential aspects of combat instead he's a brainless private that does whatever the government tells them to do go here go there go fight these people he's just a tool that's how Bo saw it and the thing is though knew this was going to be the case when he signed up he sort of knew it he thought he could handle that gulf of meaning the eye of the deal with everyday is like in order to play the game yet to play by the rules as they were being back as they were I struggle every step of the song that the this is one of the things about them here once recognizes that his expectations were unrealistic he sees things differently from other people at the same time he will fiercely defend his vision of how things should be he does not like go especially when it comes to what he saw in Afghanistan do you think what you witness to what you're reacting to was the Army in especially bad way or was it just the army being itself and kind of mass top as it you know it kind of average or make any sense yet but he was all he was looking at was simple everyday she however was looking at was the league's best shooting the weather has you know all the chart from regular stupidity or greed or stupidity was looking at was probably looking at what is needed to be fixed so we say all of us is normal everyday on my hands from her in as you all the The expendable the team The The The The The The marks conclusion about after all those months of talking to him he's not a conscientious objection or the is also not your casual dessert or throws up his hands and just says I care about any This matter here Mark thinks he's the opposite of that the these are rare person who will act rightly or wrongly it turns out but still he will act according to his principles and its principles are wrapped up with the very institution that so many people now feel he betrayed the disillusionment of somebody that really believes in the Army somebody that thinks that military leadership is a sacred position he wants the army to be better right the military is huge for him right in the present is saying just got to be a better word huge but it represented something very powerful to have even before he joined and his sense of himself as a man to his relationship to his country to all sorts of big identity question floating around for him and it still really important to him he still kind of want is Day of reckoning with those values that in a way he hasn't taken a more pragmatic route through all this which would just be this or stick your hands and say whatever you guys say like guilty just get over it yeah I think he doesn't want to cross the long reign of thing I had no point not to say that Bo wants all this attention on him now he wasn't seeking this being an audience by the way he's not asking to be some kind of like Paul Revere he just wanted to give Bo never wanted the discussion of happening now write his whole goal was to talk to was like an intra family dispute he wanted to talk to people in the military and he was actually a reporter that was sent to was like that or something with his unit that was hanging around there and if I keep all the reporter aside and said Hey get a load of this to so many great story didn't do that he wanted to be heard within the military so obviously that didn't happen and obviously he behaved in a way which runs counter to like every single military precept ever known since the dawn of time which is you don't walk away from your from your brother so he's not a great messenger for his message but the author makes a kind of interest the the the the the In both cases no one saw it coming and walking off like he didn't visit so unthinkable but a few people say they did start to see signs that Bo was a totally OK at the September hearing in Bo's case Greg Leatherman those weapons squad leader testified that at some point he noticed something was up with Poe quote it started to kind of feel that he wasn't adjusting to the deployment like the rest the guys were quote the man said he was an incredibly alarmed but he figured he ought to say something to one of the higher ups about it just in case when he's on patrol summer southeast of her Ana he finds himself sitting next to his first Sargent Pablo Jimenez quote and so I told for Sergeant that you know I thought that Sergeant Bergdahl should chat with somebody you know whether be combat stress or a chaplain or even if it were just you know the company commander to sit down and hey man how's everything going his lawyer asked Letterman how Jimenez responded to his suggestion was going to redo that part of the transcript answer for surgeon said that he didn't want to he didn't want one of his guys to tell him what was wrong his company was not my place to time if you have problems inside of his company question I think we interviewed you you had even more colorful language of what he said Yes sir could you tell us that sure he said fuck off he said shut the fuck up no need to hear what a fucking eighty five has to say about a guy in my company and I said Roger for Sergeant the one in his report General Dahl includes a statement from Jimenez who says he doesn't recall this conversation with Leatherman or any conversation like that and that Bo quote show no red flags or emotional problems as far as I can tell you the the close friend said from his messages and letters home they could tell he wasn't very happy with how things were going in Afghanistan and in retrospect you can sort of see his thoughts churning plans forming on June twenty seventh just three days before Bo left Mass to write a letter to his parents venting in which she sounded pretty disgusted with how the army was operating in Afghanistan during a more loving letter to a girl he was romantically involved with the group emails one was titled Who Is John Galt his friend Chad was on that email I saw it was like huh ok I know John Galt is a character from Atlas shrugged the very first line of the book is Who is John Galt and after about a thousand pages he finally learned that John Galt is this genius industrialist he sort of single handedly has shut down the world's economy in order to fix it he stops the machine the bug he finally reveals himself delivering a kid you not a sixty page speech laying out his philosophy or other Iran's philosophy and honestly just as an exercise you can grab almost any sentence from that John Galt speech and apply it to what Beau ended up doing for instance quote a code of values except by choice is a code of morality and now just for kicks stir in say the bu she de code the part that teaches that it's your duty to try to write a moral wrong regardless of whether he'll succeed that's maybe a potent cocktail of her bow here's the tax imposed in twenty seven the Mao quote It is not the being of value who fails the system is the system that has failed the man for man should not stoop to fit the system but the system should be made and remade to fit the man who holds value as worth I will serve no band it nor liar for I know John Galt and understand this life is too short to serve those who compromise value and is at the X I am done compromising his friend Nick read that email along with everyone else or use like or did you think like I was his boa like sorting through no bimbo yes this is Ken's thinks he would say Kim Harrison was on those emails to and got another message is from and you start to worry she says she could tell he was frustrated that his situation was dangerous that is trying to hold himself together here this is releasing his notes and emails sending these cryptic things he's in a state of mind was obvious to me where you mentally where he was that it was stretched he was on that precipice I mean where a person can make bad choices like really bad choices and I don't think you know it's not suicidal or that kind of in all it was just he's frustrated he's on edge and not really completely logical in his right mind but is this what you understood at the time they are you saying this in hindsight the time now and this was clearly out that isn't really clear yet a few days later some army people shuddered or Tae Bo is missing just a day or two after that a box arrives at her house from Bo Senate from Afghanistan got his computer his iPod his Kindle a journal and a copy of Atlas shrugged the the the it's been pretty widely reported that oppose military hearing his lawyer said this carefully phrase but also somewhat vague thing regarding goes mental health he said a quote neutral Army psychiatry board has now concluded that back in June two thousand and nine that Sergeant Bergdahl possessed a severe mental disease or defect this past week I finally found out what he meant by that in May of last year Bo's defense team asked for was called the seven o six sanity board mental health assessment in connection with the charges against Bo and Army forensic psychiatrist a well regarded doctor named Christopher Lang met with bow and give a diagnosis skits a Type A personality disorder he said Bo would have had as of the time of the alleged misconduct I'm guessing this too will be part of Bo's defense at the court martial proceeding the The Doctor Val du vino sincere psychologist who knows Bo said that when he heard this diagnosis he thought yeah I think they hit the nail on the head much this summer the struggles with it is true for me a lot of what's going on a lot after his life from development to his teenage years to adulthood really does tell the story of po unfortunately you know again gave us permission to talk about this with me he described the basic characteristics folks who were diagnosed with personality disorder very folks who who would rather be loners they lack friends you may be incorrectly interpreted them including feeling like external events have personal meaning to them and then Jeff and peculiar ways service centric not believe him so special powers and perceptual alterations and persisted in excesses are social in social and I really struggle with these grand ideas about his future about his capabilities the romantic adventures he wanted to make happen you know says those all fit the profile he said for anyone with a psychiatric illness like this symptoms tend to get worse when you're under stress one of the major symptoms is paranoia and the potential to mis interpret situations and all of you know says it's not a stretch to say that's probably what happened when Bo was deployed to Afghanistan where it's actually dangerous obviously stressful those not super tight with the guys in his unit he starts to think his Battalion commander is against them might even send them on a suicide mission which is very paranoid thinking that all leads to decisions that isn't well entirely sane by that point I think the paranoia that all kind of pushed him over the edges and he said I'm doing it when you start thinking about the idea of him being Jason Bourne and no hint hint doing special operations of that and that whole narrative that I'm going to be able to do this I'm going to go on and bring the help and not really thinking through the ramifications of walking off the basin to basically into the Taliban most of us it would be in absolute are sort of an absolute boundaries say frustrated by commanding us to this mission faster with the army there still something I think biologically that keep us from literally walking off with a right to self preservation at that clinic exactly so for him to actually do not have to think you're like Wow he had done and when you look at the total picture it starts to make them blow the money those things that would happen with bow at the Coast Guard and what happened in Afghanistan and all the piece the boom the boom the Army knows about this diagnosis at the September hearing the Army prosecutor Major Margaret Kurtz gave a preview of the Army's thinking on the subject you to read aloud one of the key points from the psychiatrist Doctor Lyons report the vote that in two thousand and nine at the time of the alleged criminal misconduct the accused was able to appreciate the nature and quality and wrong fullness of his conduct in other words mental illness are now so should be held responsible for his actions were full the full the the the other day I checked back in with Mark to see if the diagnosis made him think differently about anything I guess it's a it's an interesting data point I don't know that's the North Star of the story arc feels like he already knew walking off was not a rational thing to do so putting a label on those way of thinking didn't really change much Farm Market for me the diagnosis may be let go of any lingering doubts I had about the truthfulness of those account like all the details that didn't add up well yeah if you're paranoid and doing some magical thinking of course the details done that makes me believe them he really was in his mind trying to raise an alarm Mark already believed go though so aside from a legal defense Mark was unsure the diagnosis made much of a difference and he worried in fact that once they heard the diagnosis people maybe people like me would disregard everything though is saying about his military experience I do think that for you the diagnosis it makes him more credible to you but it also means you take him less seriously I think as as a kid with opinions he now has like an American soldier with opinions now I don't think that's correct I think I think his assessment and a general way of like the lighting we can all agree like the war in Afghanistan has not been a success rate I guess I more think he was kind of right by accident right with me right by acts like he said happens to be helped but not he's not specifically raid in the particular instances he's necessarily giving as examples of the overall failure but he's responding to real data points right I mean he's not thinking that stuff just from his from his cat log cabin in Idaho I guess but if I mean again I know we've we serve I argued about on them before but I feel like you know his beef with Tom isn't like we never should've got there in the first place we never said you know Damien his beef really at the end of the day his biggest complaint is this feeling of our commander doesn't care about our welfare and in fact it was the point where he was maybe in A centers on a suicide mission to get rid of us because we are bad for his reputation yeah right like that's not no I mean there's a lot of different judgments that are stacked on top of each other in the last one is is is just deeply paranoid and you can reject it on its face I don't think there's a commander in the US armed forces who would do anything remotely like what those adjusting okay sooner had I just think is just the other but the judgments that proceed that that maybe this commander has other priorities in it besides purely the welfare of his soldiers I think that's clearly on the face of it true because he dated put American lives at risk to retrieve equipment and that is part of the calculation of war and you can talk to people an up and down the chain of command also yeah shit like that happens all the time where you weigh a summons laugh against a piece of equipment and that may be a everyday calculation but that doesn't make any last fucked up especially if year or the kid that is whose life is being weighed to get the equipment back hairs are Mark and I diverged no healing spas personal experience more directly to the problems of the war the idea he wants to be careful to separate what goes saying from who bow as a case like this though that's the rub Mark sees that I keep going back to to something that somebody said to a long time ago which is like kind of agree with everything he said but I still want to punch in the face you know what it's like that line from the big bow ski not wrong Walter just an asshole heard something akin to that sentiment from a bunch of the soldiers who served with Bowe was not driving the ship without it for every law that shit we also we all worried about in that sterile Hansen does the fact of his way he describes as his good intentions matter to you yes it does I mean I But in tension like that is not however just by doing something so huge in such a big decision that so many consequences what they feel like you will have to be God to make that kind who made a God like decisions from the the you want to be careful not to suggest all the soldiers we talked to are in lockstep hear some of them even when we talk to them last summer said they'd already forgiven and moved on others said they never get over the past week or two my producer Dana and I checked in with a half dozen soldiers receive anything they'd heard from both so far on the podcast had made them feel differently some said they still thought he was lying about why I left others said they believe him now are trying to forgive would be dead but they just can't quite get there here's Ben Evans he may have had the greatest and the world but I just don't I can't just own it yeah I talk to John Thurman for a while recently John's mother is at their best unlike a lot of veterans he's also had counseling to help them deal with the after effects of deployment so that he be a little more touchy feely question of those mental health I wanted to know the diagnosis would help John had to say that would bode it was okay but whether diagnosis would help John forgive just personally I got pretty pushy with John about it he was a really good sport we all experience the same thing we didn't walk ah I know I know that you're saying we all experience the same thing and we drove on yes I'm saying to you is you didn't expect well yes we didn't see it from his lands you know yeah he was he was getting scared by it and you weren't right you're not perceiving danger in those rapper mans and he is yeah yeah I mean I don't think there was danger in those reprimand I I know that's not that we're not arguing with her right we're not arguing whether he's correct yeah um are really really really try to see it from his side through his lands and I understand that he and I have very diff
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S02 Episode 08: Hindsight, Part 2

S02 Episode 08: Hindsight, Part 2

This American Life