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Bush Visits Troops, Families at Walter Reed

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 22, 2008 – President George W. Bush paid a call to Walter Reed Army Medical Center here today to visit with wounded warriors, extend holiday greetings to them and their families and check up personally on the care and support they are receiving.

“Every time I come here, I get amazed at the quality of care, the professionalism and the courage of our troops,” Bush told reporters after the visit.

“I can say with certainty that the health care that our troops get in military medical facilities is excellent,” the president said. “I am so pleased to hear from spouses and other loved ones about the care they get, as well, when they come to visit their … wounded child or wounded husband or wounded spouse.”

Noting that the visit is likely to be his last before leaving office, Bush said he took “great pleasure” in thanking those who serve at Walter Reed and other military medical facilities.

He reiterated his sentiment that he’ll miss his role as commander in chief more than any other part of the presidency. “The military is the thing I’ll miss the most, and coming here to Walter Reed is a reminder of why I’ll miss it,” he said.

Bush said in a Washington Times article published today he considers the time he spends with wounded troops and families of the wounded and fallen an important -– and highly emotional -- part of his job.

“This is my duty,” he said. “The president is commander in chief, but the president is often ‘comforter in chief,’ as well. It is my duty … to try to comfort as best as I humanly can a loved one who is in anguish.”

Comfort can come in many different forms, the president said. “Comfort means hug, comfort means cry, comfort means smile, comfort means listen,” he said. “Comfort also means, in many cases, assure the parent or the spouse that any decision made about troops in combat will be made with victory in mind, not about my personal standing in the polls or partisan politics.”

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