BETHESDA, Md. - President Joe Biden visited wounded soldiers at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda on Friday during his first major trip beyond the White House since the inauguration.
Biden met with both active duty and retired service members receiving treatment at the facility, before touring the vaccine distribution center there.
"These kids are amazing, and thank God there’s not as many people to visit," he said, calling those at the hospital "real heroes."
Biden has a long and personal history with the hospital, which treats thousands of military service members, veterans and their families. His son Beau, who served as a major in the Delaware Army National Guard, died there in 2015 after a long battle with brain cancer.
Even before Beau’s treatment at the hospital, Biden and his wife, Jill, were frequent visitors during his time as vice president, making multiple Christmas Day stops to meet with soldiers there.
Jill Biden focused in part on promoting awareness of issues affecting military families during that time, and on Friday she’ll again be focused on the issue as she participates in a virtual event with military-connected students.
The president is visiting the hospital after just over a week in which he signed more than three dozen executive orders, many of them reversing initiatives launched by his predecessor, former President Donald Trump.
Other measures included orders addressing COVID-19, environmental regulation and immigration policy.
Walter Reed features a specially outfitted suite for presidents to receive treatment, and President Donald Trump was admitted there for a few days last October receiving treatment for the coronavirus.
It was one of just a few trips to the hospital made by Trump, who broke with predecessor President Barack Obama in terms of visiting troops there. Obama made nearly two dozen trips to the hospital to meet with wounded soldiers.
After he selected the site for the hospital’s foundation in 1940, Frankin Delano Roosevelt was treated by one of its doctors.
In addition, the late President Ronald Reagan and the late First Lady Nancy Reagan were both treated there.
The Associated Press contributed to this report