Maj. Jill Metzger, the Air Force officer who went missing for three days in September in Kyrgyzstan, then said she’d been kidnapped, is to be temporarily retired from the Air Force after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome, her father said Tuesday.

Metzger is to be on the “temporary disability retired list” starting this month, her father, retired Air Force Lt. Col John Metzger, said in a telephone interview Tuesday from his home in North Carolina.

He said his daughter had been diagnosed with PTSD this spring at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, and that two medical doctors and a personnel officer had made the decision to allow her to temporarily retire.

Metzger said his daughter, a former Air Force marathon champion, had gone on leave after her diagnosis and was currently living with her husband, Capt. Joshua Mayo, who’s stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. He said she was still running competitively and was working on a master’s degree.

Neither Mayo nor Jill could be reached for comment.

Metzger’s father said she would be drawing retirement pay, and that she’d be re-evaluated in 18 months to see whether she’d be returned to active duty.

“There’s no reason she wouldn’t be fit to go back into the Air Force,” he said. Air Force spokesman Dewey Mitchell said he could not confirm John Metzger’s account. But he said Air Force regulations do provide for temporary disability retirement.

Metzger said that his daughter’s status was something the family had hoped for in the light of what he believes was the horrific experience she underwent in Kyrgyzstan while serving with the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing.

“It’s what we wanted all along,” John Metzger said. “It gives her a chance to gather her thoughts, recoup a little bit and just get away from the Air Force.”

Metzger disappeared from a Bishkek department store Sept. 5. On Sept. 8, Kyrgyz police were called to a home in a nearby town, where Metzger was found distressed and claiming to have escaped from kidnappers. Her long, blonde hair had been cut short and dyed brown and her hands were stained with dye.

Metzger told authorities that someone had put an object in her pocket in the department store, along with a note saying it was a bomb, and that she had been abducted by three men and a woman after following the note’s instructions. She claimed to escape by striking one of her captors and running miles to safety.

Kyrgyz authorities were skeptical, saying store video and witness accounts conflicted with her statements.

The Air Force and the FBI have been investigating the matter, and Metzger testified before a grand jury last fall. But no arrests have been announced, no conclusions publicly released. Mitchell said the investigation was ongoing.

The Air Force has been criticized for releasing no information on the case.

John Metzger said the family, as well, wanted the Air Force to make a statement.

“We’ve cooperated to the utmost,” he said. “I do think at some point they owe us, the American people and the world an explanation of Jill’s abduction.”

author picture
Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

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