Biden visits wounded servicemen at Walter Reed’s house
President Joe Biden ended a busy first full week at the White House on Friday with a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he met with injured service members and visited the facility’s COVID-19 vaccination center.
Biden’s first visit there marks one of his first departures from the closed White House campus. Throughout the transition and even during the campaign, Biden reduced his travel and in-person meetings, doing as much work as possible virtually to minimize the risk of the coronavirus spreading.
In the 10 days since he was inaugurated president, Biden’s only other businesses beyond the White House complex included a visit to the Lincoln Memorial for a celebration on the night of inauguration day. and a visit to the church last Sunday.
Biden has a long and personal connection to the hospital – the president’s son Beau Biden died in Walter Reed in 2015 of brain cancer. He had served in the Delaware Army National Guard. Even before his son’s death, Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, frequently visited the medical center when Biden was Obama’s vice president.
The president himself was also a patient at Bethesda hospital, having suffered two life-threatening brain aneurysms in 1988.
“I’ve been to Walter Reed’s many times. I spent almost six months there myself as a patient,” Biden said before leaving the White House. “And on top of that, as Vice President, every Christmas we spent all of Christmas Day at Walter Reed’s. These kids are amazing. And thank goodness there aren’t that many people to visit. “
The President referred to the name of his deceased son on several occasions throughout his visit, repeatedly thanking health workers for all they have done for both his family and all other injured servicemen.
“You have done a lot for my family. My son Beau, after a year in Iraq, returned with stage four glioblastoma. You took care of him in his last days with great grace and dignity,” said Biden, adding: “At old Walter Reed, I spent six months with a few head aneurysms and a major embolism – great fun. The docs are good but the nurses are better – men and women.”
Biden visited a number of injured servicemen and toured the hospital’s COVID-19 vaccination center alongside Col. Andrew Barr, director of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he chatted with servicemen on the train to receive their own coronavirus vaccine shoot.
“We’re going to make sure everyone has enough,” Biden said of the COVID vaccine. “We will increase the supply nationwide.”
The first lady also focused her attention on raising awareness of issues affecting military families on Friday, attending a virtual event with military-related students.
On Friday, Dr Biden met with high school members of the Military Children Education Coalition (MCEC) Student Mentorship Program 2 students via Zoom, offering support to children of military personnel who may be struggling amid the pandemic.
The Student 2 Student high school program provides a safe place for military children as they change schools frequently and intends to “create a positive environment, support academic excellence and facilitate transitions,” according to its website. .
The cause is near and dear to Dr. Biden’s heart, and she told the assembled students that she was “so excited to see what we’re going to do together.”
“The founding of Joining Forces has always been guided by the experience of military families,” said Dr Biden, referring to the initiative she had created years before when serving as second lady. “You are our pole star, so welcome to the White House. I wish you could be with me here together in person.
“As a member of the MCEC Student 2 Student program, you demonstrate what our military community does best: serve and sacrifice yourself for others. Use your own challenges to make it easier for someone else, ”she continued, adding,“ The President and I are grateful for the generosity and kindness you show every day. “
Shortly after the Zoom call ended, Dr Biden briefly left the White House alongside her husband, sending the president to Walter Reed with a kiss in front of the assembled press.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.