In Serial podcast episodes 7 and 8, which were released within 24 hours of each other as two parts of one episode titled "Hindsight," we learn some key things about Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
For those who haven't followed the Bergdahl case closely, it probably came as a surprise to hear that his time in the Army wasn't his first go at the military. In 2006, he went to Coast Guard boot camp, where he suffered a mental breakdown and was subsequently hospitalized and discharged from the service.
A mental health professional who evaluated him at the time noted that Bergdahl should get a green light from a psychiatrist before rejoining the military – but that message apparently never made it to Army recruiters. But even if it had, it may not have prevented him from enlisting. At the time, the Army had relaxed standards and was issuing more waivers in response to the war in Afghanistan, where they needed more boots on the ground.
Another critical fact we learned in these episodes is that Bergdahl is diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder, which we learn makes sense with his personality: isolated, eccentric, socially anxious and paranoid, among other traits. It fits with the Bergdahl we've come to know through Serial, preoccupied with moral code, obsessed with being a warrior and convinced that Army leadership was out to get him and his platoonmates.
Undoubtedly, the diagnosis will be used in his defense as his legal proceedings move forward. But does it answer questions about why he walked off post – or just raise more?
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