WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is making his first major foray outside the White House on Friday, to visit wounded soldiers at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Biden has a long and personal history with the hospital, which treats thousands of military service members, veterans and their families. His son Beau, who served as a major in the Delaware Army National Guard, died there in 2015 after a long battle with brain cancer.
Even before Beau's treatment at the hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside Washington, Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, were frequent visitors during his time as vice president, making multiple Christmas Day stops to meet with soldiers there. Jill Biden focused in part on promoting awareness of issues affecting military families during that time, and on Friday she'll again be focused on the issue as she participates in a virtual event with military-connected students.
Walter Reed also features a specially outfitted suite for presidents to receive treatment, and President Donald Trump was admitted there for a few days last October receiving treatment for the coronavirus. It was one of just a few trips to the hospital made by Trump, who broke with predecessor President Barack Obama in terms of visiting troops there. Obama made nearly two dozen trips to the hospital to meet with wounded soldiers.
Biden's early visit there marks one of his first departures from the gated White House campus. Throughout the transition and even during the campaign, Biden has pared back his travel and in-person meetings, doing as much work as possible virtually to minimize the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
In the 10 days since he was inaugurated president, Biden's only other ventures beyond the White House complex included a visit to the Lincoln Memorial for a celebration on Inauguration Day evening and a visit to church last Sunday.