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Walter Reed patients get pre-holiday VIP visits

Dec. 20, 2012 - 05:45PM   |   Last Updated: Dec. 20, 2012 - 05:45PM  |  
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President Obama dropped in on wounded troops at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., on Thursday, spending an hour with service members during a day that included a House vote on Speaker John Boehner's proposal to avert the pending budget crisis.

Few details emerged on the president's visit; the event was closed to the press. But he reportedly spent time with 10 combat injured personnel — nine soldiers and one Marine.

The president frequently visits the hospital, where many of the nation's most injured personnel are treated.

In September, he spoke with 28 soldiers and eight Marines at the medical center, awarding two Purple Hearts during that trip.

First Lady Michelle Obama and the rest of the Obama family plan to leave for vacation to Hawaii on Friday after delivering toys to the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program, the Washington Post reported Saturday. The president has said he will stay in Washington until an agreement is reached on the long-term spending plan.

On Wednesday, Walter Reed patients enjoyed another visit from a VIP. According to the Pentagon, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Lloyd Austin toured the National Intrepid Center of Excellence aboard the Bethesda base and visited with injured patients at Walter Reed.

He also received a briefing on satellite Intrepid Center clinics being built at five Army bases as well as Camp Lejeune, N.C., a Marine Corps base.

NICoE officials estimate the clinics will each see 1,200 patients with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder a year. The most severe cases will continue to be referred to the Bethesda Center.

"I'm very much encouraged and excited about the satellite clinics. They will be beneficial" to service members, Austin said.

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