Bowe Bergdahl returns home -- to a long road ahead - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Bowe Bergdahl returns home -- to a long road ahead

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(CNN) -- Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the last American prisoner of war, returned home early Friday, his hero's welcome supplanted by a controversial prisoner swap and his reputation tarnished byaccusations he was a deserter.

He arrived in San Antonio from a military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, where he'd been recuperating since his release May 31 in exchange for five Taliban figures held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The 28-year-old Bergdahl, the longest-held U.S. soldier since the Vietnam War, was taken to the San Antonio Military Medical Center.

"The Army will continue to ensure that Sgt. Bergdahl receives the care, time and space he needs to complete his recovery and reintegration," Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

Officials at an afternoon press conference described Bergdahl's condition as stable.

"We're pleased with his physical state. He was able to walk into the hospital in a functional manner. We're going to be planning more comprehensive testing," said Col. Ronald Wool, admitting physician at Brooke Army Medical Center.

Wool said Bergdahl, who has not had the opportunity to practice and speak English for the past five years, spoke in English.

Maj. Gen. Joseph DiSalvo told reporters he'd seen Bergdahl for approximately 60 seconds. They exchanged salutes and the soldier "looked good ... had good deportment," DiSalvo said.

This next phase of his recovery will likely not be as intense as what he underwent at the U.S. military hospital in Germany, Chris Heben, a former Navy SEAL commenting on the case, told CNN.

"Emotionally, it's probably almost surreal for him," Heben said. "He's back in the U.S., and he's no longer under that intense microscope where he was at Landstuhl from a medical standpoint of psychiatric evaluation"

Bergdahl's full physical recovery may take months; his public rehabilitation will likely take longer.

The swap that freed Bergdahl has stirred up a political storm in Washington. And almost-daily revelations about Bergdahl's time in Afghanistan have not helped matters.

"Everybody has a piece of the story, and very few people have the whole story," a Defense Department psychologist told reporters.

The backlash has gotten so bad that a public celebration in his hometown of Hailey, Idaho -- one that the 8,000 residents there had waited five years for -- has been scrapped for fear of protests.

Bergdahl has not yet spoken to his family and his parents were not present for his arrival.

"It isn't over for us," Bergdahl's father, Bob, told reporters last week. "In many ways, it's just beginning for Jani and I, and our family. There's a long process here."

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