Former President George W. Bush said he misses being the commander in chief and announced his decision to dedicate the rest of the his life to helping the nation’s veterans.
“I miss some things about being president. I miss having a shower on an airplane. I miss the pastry chef. I miss the people with whom I served. I don’t miss much else,” Bush said at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “I’m comfortable in my life but there is one thing I miss and that is looking in the eyes of the men and women who volunteered to serve our country and saluting them. I miss being the commander in chief of our great nation and so I have decided to dedicate the rest of my life to helping our vets, to helping those with whom I was honored to serve.”
Bush explained that the George W. Bush Presidential Center has been working on issues such as education reform and women’s rights in the Middle East.
“We believe women will lead the freedom movement in the Middle East. I believe strongly that freedom is a universal right. I believe freedom is the only way for peace and I believe women will lead the movement,” he said. “Therefore, we are helping women in Tunisia and Egypt become leaders to help change those societies for the sake of peace. We’re working with presidential libraries. There are some good assets down in our part of the world called presidential libraries – LBJ’s, 41’s, 42’s and 43’s.”
Bush stressed the importance of assisting the one million veterans who will complete their military service over the next 5 years and transition to civilian life. Bush praised the Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes Program for helping veterans in the workforce.
“They face challenges really different from the battlefield. Some feel misunderstood or underappreciated – too many desperately so. They struggle to find the right kind of help for their specific situation and at a rate higher than the rest of the country, post 9-11 vets have difficulty finding meaningful careers,” he said. “So the Bush Institute’s Military Service Initiative is helping Americans better understand our veterans, more effectively support our veterans and take advantage of the opportunity to employ our veterans – that is our mission.”
Bush said the treatment of veterans in the aftermath of the Vietnam War was disgraceful and shameful.
“Since 9-11 there’s been a healthy debate on the War on Terror, as there should be, but Americans have put political views aside and strongly supported our troops and vets. More than 45,000 not-for-profit organizations in our country have a mission at least partly related to serving veterans,” Bush said. “It’s a big number and it’s a great testament to our country’s strong support for our veterans. But, it can be overwhelming for newly returned veterans looking for help.”
Bush mentioned some of the challenges facing many veterans such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Bush said his presidential center is trying to help employers better understand that PTS is an injury.
“There’s a stigma attached with PTS, partly because it is mislabeled a disorder and partly because many people are not aware of the treatment options so some veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress are reluctant to seek help,” he said.
“Most doctors will tell you post-traumatic stress is not a disorder. It’s an injury that can result in the experience of battle. It’s treatable and the military and medical communities have made progress in developing effective ways to deal with PTS, so therefore at the Bush Center we are starting an effort to drop the D to help people better understand we are talking about an injury.”