A Franklin College alumnus is at the forefront of national news this week, offering a unique perspective on the recent release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from captivity. Col. Lee Ellis, a UGA history graduate (A.B. ‘65) and retired Air Force Colonel, was a POW during the Vietnam War for five-and-a-half years. In interviews with CBS News and CNN, Ellis recounts his own experience and offers his take on what challenges may lie ahead for Bergdahl.
Ellis, who was held captive alongside others including Senator John McCain during his service in the military, offers sound advice for Bergdahl’s family and friends:
What helped for Ellis was never giving up hope.
"I think you always survive everything one day at a time. You keep walking forward until you come out the other side. Hope is so important."
He said Bergdahl will also have to find people who understand and can relate to what he's been through.
"Life is not easy for any of us, and he's going to have to work through those experiences also. And that's where he's going to need help, and I would say he's probably going to need some counseling. That would be good for him and helping him because he's probably going to have some degree of PTSD also."
While Ellis was held captive in Vietnam with others, Bergdahl was a lone prisoner, and this could factor into his recovery, Ellis said.
"We had a couple of guys that were in China, held for more than five years and several were in solitary confinement for several years, but they did know there was some support around. I think for Bowe, it's going to be much more difficult because he was so alone, and knowing who to trust, who not to trust and just feeling safe and letting his hair down a little bit - I do think it will complicate it significantly."
Ellis is stepping forward to help the public understand and provide context at a critical moment in history. Another great example of a Franklin College graduate’s contribution to the world. Bravo! You can read more about Ellis here or visit his blog here.