After just over a week in the Oval Office, President Joe Biden finally took a break from signing executive orders so he could actually do other presidential things.
According to Fox News, Biden took a trip Friday to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he spent some quality time with wounded military servicemembers. While on-site, the president also took a tour of the hospital’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution center, Fox reported.
His first trip as president
Biden’s visit to the world-renowned medical facility was a first in his presidency, but technically speaking, Biden has logged quite a few hours at Walter Reed: he was there as vice president, as a patient, and as a visitor while his son, Beau, battled cancer at the facility before ultimately succumbing to the disease.
President Biden reportedly met up with several hospital staff members before he toured the facility Friday, thanking them for taking care of Beau before his death in 2015.
“You took care of him in his final days, with great grace and dignity,” Biden told the hospital staffers, according to Fox. “It’s an honor to be back,” the president added.
Earlier that day, before his visit, Biden recounted his numerous trips to Walter Reed while he served in the Obama administration, telling reporters outside the White House that he had visited the hospital on many occasions during that time period.
“I’ve been at Walter Reed a lot,” Biden told reporters, according to Fox. “As vice president, every single Christmas, we spent all of Christmas Day at Walter Reed. These kids are amazing.”
A former patient himself
Aside from spending time at Walter Reed with his wife Jill and other family members while his son bravely battled brain cancer, the president also experienced his own long-term stay at the military medical facility decades ago after a serious medical emergency.
According to Delaware Online, Biden’s 2007 book Promises To Keep recounts the scary events that led to his extended stay at Walter Reed, including a moment he experienced in a hotel room in 1988 after giving a speech at the University of Rochester.
Biden described feeling “lightning flashing inside my head, a powerful electrical surge — and then a rip of pain like I’d never felt before.”
Though he flew back to his Delaware home the next morning, Biden was soon admitted to the Wilmington-based Saint Francis Hospital, where doctors determined that surgery was his best option after they found an aneurysm at the base of his brain.
Given only a 50% chance of surviving such a rare and exceedingly dangerous surgery, Biden underwent a microsurgical craniotomy procedure at Walter Reed. After two successful surgeries and several months of recovery, he was finally released — and, as they say, the rest is history.