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Bush Visits War Wounded, Families, Army Medical Personnel

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2008 – President Bush visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center here today to pay respects to wounded soldiers and their families, and to the medical personnel who care for the injured.

After his visit, Bush commented on the paradoxical human conditions produced by combat wounds.

“On the one hand, you see the horrors of war; on the other hand, you see the courage of the people that have volunteered to serve,” he said. “I marvel when I come to Walter Reed. I marvel at the fact that people say to me, ‘Mr. President, I'd do it again.’

“They had one kid in there who got hurt pretty bad,” the president continued, “and he says, ‘I'm looking forward to getting back in uniform, getting back on the front lines.’”

Of the 30,634 American servicemembers wounded since operations began in Iraq in March 2003, 17,121 returned to duty within 72 hours. Overall, 2,442 U.S. troops have been injured in Afghanistan since operations began there October 2001; 882 returned to duty within three days.

The president said part of his visit to the hospital was dedicated to honoring the family members affected by injuries their loved one suffered.

“I've also come to pay my respects to family members that are praying that their loved one can get back on their feet and serve again, or get back on their feet and live a normal life,” he said.

Bush called Americans “lucky” to have men and women willing to “volunteer to wear the uniform and to serve to protect us,” and added that the medical treatment available at Walter Reed is “first-class.”

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