Biden visits wounded soldiers at Walter Reed, where son died

President Joe Biden has made his first major foray outside the White House with a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to meet with wounded soldiers

Biden met with both active duty and retired service members receiving treatment at the facility, before touring the vaccine distribution center there.

“These kids are amazing, and thank God there’s not as many people to visit,” he said, calling those at the hospital ”real heroes."

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 at Walter Reed in 2015 of brain cancer. Biden said Friday that the hospital took care of Beau "in his final days with great grace and dignity.”

At the White House, the first lady tried to encourage military high school students who told her they want people to know that they serve the country, too. The students participate in a peer support program in which they help other military students settle into a new school.

Jill Biden told the students during the virtual roundtable that both she and the president appreciate the sacrifices they make.

“I don’t want you to feel like we don’t see you,” she said. “We see you and we appreciate every single day all that you’re doing and, you know, especially during this pandemic, when acts of kindness are especially so important to other people, other students.”

Biden’s early visit to Walter Reed 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.