President Visits Walter Reed Patients
By Gene Harper
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 19, 2004 President Bush met with wounded service members and their families at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here today.
President George W. Bush meets with U.S. Army Specialist Salvatore Cavallaro of East Providence, R.I., while visiting troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Friday, March 19, 2004. Also pictured is Sergeant Gidget Rizzo. White House photo by Eric Draper
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
He said he wanted "to meet the wounded who have made a decision to sacrifice for this nation's security and for freedom in the world."
"It is an honor to meet their parents or their wives, their children, brave souls who support their loved one with all their heart," he told reporters after his visit.
The president made the trip from the White House after delivering an address to the nation today marking the anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. A day earlier, he visited Fort Campbell, Ky., to thank the 101st Airborne Division for its just-completed deployment to Iraq.
At Walter Reed, Bush said it also was an honor to be among the doctors and nurses "who are doing unbelievable work in helping to bring these people back, back on their feet, back into their communities."
The president said the wounded service members deserve and get the best of care. "One of the most important things for a commander in chief is to be able to say to a loved one, 'If your son or daughter or husband or wife gets injured, you'll get the best possible care as quickly as possible,'" he said. "Every time I come to Walter Reed, it confirms that which I know, which is we're providing the very best: the best care, the best compassion."
Bush said the wounded service members' "spirit is strong. The attitudes are terrific." He said several soldiers, including badly injured ones, "want to get well quickly and get back on their duty station in Iraq. They want to serve our nation."