By Arlette Saenz
President George W. Bush has made a point of staying out of the political limelight since he left the White House five years ago, but there’s still one perk he misses from his time as president – Air Force One.
“A lot of people ask me, do I miss much about being president? The answer’s really no,” Bush said in Dallas, Texas today. “I mean I miss people I served with. I miss Air Force One. In eight years, they never lost my baggage.”
Bush made his comments while highlighting the Bush Institute’s Military Service Initiative with Dr. Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Biden.
“I do miss saluting men and women who volunteered to defend our nation during war,” Bush said. “Many are coming home and are preparing for new missions as civilians and I intend to salute these men and women for the rest of my life.”
Bush, who hosts an annual 100-kilometer mountain bike ride for wounded vets and as well as a Warrior Open golf tournament, said he remains committed to ensuring veterans successfully transition to civilian life.
“What most veterans want is to have their service understood and appreciated for what it is: A formative experience in their lives and a source of skills and values that prepare them to succeed in civilian lives,” Bush said. "Our veterans have defended the American people and now they want to experience the American dream.”
“Veterans and employers both have a hard time translating military experience. That’s not surprising. You don’t see many job postings that say ‘Wanted: Experience in hunting insurgents and terrorists. Willing to risk life for coworkers,’” the president said. “What’s a veteran supposed to put down? ‘My last office was a Humvee?’”
Bush also stressed the importance of dropping the word “disorder” from PTSD in order to “end the false stigma” affecting many veterans.
“The problem with post traumatic stress is not the condition itself. The problem is the stigma surrounding the condition,” Bush said. “As most doctors will tell you today, post traumatic stress is not a disorder. Post traumatic stress or PTS is an injury that can result from the experience of war, and like other injuries PTS is treatable.”
“Veterans receiving treatment for post traumatic stress are not damaged goods. They are not mentally shattered. They are people who got hurt defending their country and are now overcoming wounds,” he added.
The former commander-in-chief said the Bush Institute, along with universities and employers, can help provide veterans with resources as they try to join the civilian workforce.
“At the Bush Center, we believe it’s never too late to learn a new skill. Just ask Laura,” the president said referring to his wife. “I promise you, years ago she didn’t think she was marrying an oil painter.”