Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl may soon find himself the owner of a tax-free $350,000 – if he is found to not have deserted his base in Afghanistan.
In order to receive the money, the current investigation into his disappearance must also conclude that he was, in fact, a prisoner of war for the five years that he was held by Islamic militants.
Bergdahl is owed approximately $200,000 in back pay for the time he spent in Taliban hands. Another $150,000 could be added onto that sum if he is determined to have been a prisoner of war.
As Fox News reports, both of these sums could be tax free.
Tax rules for military pay indicate that enlisted personnel can exclude active-duty pay earned while serving in a combat zone.
Furthermore, according to the Department of Defense’s financial management regulation and as Fox News reports, former captives’ payments are generally untaxable “if the captive status resulted from the deprivation of personal rights, such as terrorist activity.”
The decision of whether or not Bergdahl was a POW lies with the Secretary of the Army. On Monday, the Pentagon indicated that the investigation into his June 2009 disappearance in eastern Afghanistan is ongoing.
After his release, Bergdahl, 28, spent six weeks in medical rehab at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.
On Saturday, he was moved to the U.S. Army North command, under whose command he will return to work and live in standard military barracks. On Monday, he was set to return to active duty.
“Essentially he’ll be working a desk job,” said Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren.
Bergdahl is now allowed to leave the base, but is escorted by his care team when he does so. Military officials have noted that he now also has a lawyer to represent him.
According to Fox News, although he has sent two letters to his parents in Idaho, he has not yet spoken to them; they have not yet visited him in Texas.
Several soldiers who served with Bergdahl have stated that he intentionally deserted his post, and put fellow soldiers at risk when they went to search for him.
“I think it’s very clear he deserted his post,” noted former Army Sgt. Evan Buetow, adding that “we have witnesses who saw him walking away.”
Photo Source: Daily Mail