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Rep. Loebsack : Concerns About Release

Iowa Congressman Dave Loebsack says he has some serious concerns about the release of a U.S. soldier held captive for nearly five years in Afghanistan.

Rep. Loebsack (D-Iowa City) says the White House did the right thing when it comes to bringing Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl home.

"Bringing a soldier back from the (battlefield) is always the right thing to do and as a military parent, I am pleased that Sgt. Bergdahl will finally be reunited with his family.  We have a moral duty as a nation to bring home all of our personnel.  I do have some concerns about the circumstances surround the case."

Rep. Loebsack says the concerns surround howhe ended up away from his post in Afghanistan and how he was captured.

"If this person did something that he should be prosecuted for, if he deserted, if he did something terrible, then he should be brought back to the U.S. and he should be put on trial and he should be prosecuted and he should be punished."

Rep. Loeback is worried the five Guantanamo Bay detainees who were exchanged for Bergdahl will return to the battlefield and he says this has strengthened his longtime fear of a more defined "price tag" being placed on captured U.S. soldiers.

Rep. Loebsack plans to attend a briefing early next week.  He says at this point, it appears the White House should have done a better job of keeping Congress informed.


Meanwhile, Rep. Loebsack is confident the VA hospitals in Iowa are doing a good job of serving veterans.

He says his confidence comes from regular meetings with administrators and staff at the facilities in Iowa City and Des Moines.

He believes quality care is being provided in a timely manner, in part because of the close relationships between the VA hospitals and nearby health care facilities, but he adds there is always room for improvement.

"It doesn’t mean that (the hospitals) can’t do better.  It does not mean that (Congress) cannot provide more resources so they can have more staff, maybe even more physical space or clinics.”

On-Air Report

Rep. Loebsack says it appears the latest problems with specific VA hospitals, in particular the Phoenix facility, are cases of “bad apples in the bunch," but he says the department’s management structure might still need a shake-up, based on recent findings of secret waiting lists and delayed care.

The Congressman called for the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki following the release of a report from the VA Inspector General's Office.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.