WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama awarded six Purple Hearts while visiting with wounded service members on Wednesday.
The commander in chief met with 22 patients and their families during a midday visit to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., just outside of Washington, the White House said.
Twenty-one served in Afghanistan; the other served in Iraq.
Obama also met with medical center staff during his hospital stay of more than an hour.
The visits are closed to media coverage and the White House does not identify the medal recipients.
Obama has made several trips to both the Maryland facility and Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington to comfort the wounded and recognize their service to the country by awarding service medals. He visited the Walter Reed facility on the eve of his inauguration in January 2009.
Obama’s most recent visit to the Naval Medical Center was in February 2010 when he underwent his first medical checkup as president. He visited with a dozen service members at the time.
The president’s visits with wounded warriors aren’t limited to U.S. soil.
He visited some service members at the U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, in June 2009, and spent time with others during both of his stops in the Afghanistan war zone last year.
Both the president, first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, Jill, have emphasized the government’s obligation to support military members and their families. The Bidens’ son, Beau, served in Iraq.
Last month, Obama announced new government-wide initiatives to support military families, including programs aimed at preventing suicide and eliminating homelessness.
Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, both advocates for military families, have visited military installations to talk with service members about their concerns and have urged everyday Americans to volunteer to help them however they can.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)