MIGHTY 25: George W. Bush devotes his life to military families

Jessica Manfre
Nov 1, 2023 9:00 AM PDT
3 minute read
George Bush in military uniform next to his official White House portrait.

George Bush in military uniform next to his official White House portrait.


Though he earned a quiet retirement, George Bush has devoted his time since leaving the White House to serving the military community. 

Former President George W. Bush was America’s 43rd president and led the country forward through what felt like endless tragedies. Though he earned a quiet retirement, George Bush has devoted his time since leaving the White House to serving the military community.

The proud Texan was born in Connecticut but grew up in Midland and Houston, Texas. After earning his undergrad at Yale he became a fighter pilot for the Texas Air National Guard. Bush earned a Master of Business at Harvard once he completed his time in service and went to work in Texas for the energy sector. 

After helping his father during his successful bid to become president, Bush and a few partners purchased the Texas Rangers baseball team in 1989. Four years later, he was the governor of Texas and served two terms. This political experience led to his eventual run for the presidency and service from 2001-2009. 

Bush led the nation through the unconscionable terrorist attacks of 9/11 which killed almost 3,000 people, and was the Commander in Chief over multiple wars in the Middle East. The Global War on Terror defined an entire generation and transformed the world in undeniable ways. When Bush turned over the reins of leadership to President Obama in 2009, he’d earned rest. 

But he continued to serve, joining forces with former President Clinton on fundraising efforts for the victims of the devastating hurricane in Haiti in 2010. Bush also wrote a book, Decision Points, which went through all of the pivotal moments of the former president’s life. 

Just a few years after leaving the White House, Bush and his wife, Laura, dedicated the George W. Bush Presidential Center and Bush Institute. Part of the foundation is wholeheartedly dedicated to America’s military families. 

Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors was released in 2017. The book features oil-painted portraits by the former president and their stories of courage. 

When he was interviewed on the Today Show for the book release, Bush discussed his love for the military. 

"People ask me, do you miss being president?'' he said. "The answer is, not really. But I miss saluting people who volunteer to wear the uniform."

The focus of the book was to highlight the perseverance of the warriors battling invisible wounds and their path of struggling well. 

"It starts with — and this is why these vets are very important — vets saying, 'I've got a problem,'' Bush explained. "There's a lot of denial because there's a stigma. Our message is that it's courageous to talk about it and seek help."

It was more than simply painting unknown warriors he came across in research. 

“I know them all,” Bush told VOA. “I’ve ridden bikes with them. I’ve played golf with them. I knew their stories.”

He dedicated all proceeds from the sales of his book to the fund the programs serving military families at the institute, which has grown significantly since its founding. 

According to its website, The Veterans and Military Families program helps veterans, service members and their loved ones make successful transitions through leadership programming and research-driven policy recommendations. We focus on informing the veteran employment, education, and health and well-being space so that transitions are simpler and more accessible.

Bush also established the Stand-To-Leadership Program, bringing leaders who serve the military population together for a five-month cohort. 

From his own service to his lifetime commitment to military families, we salute you President George Bush. Thank you for being MIGHTY.


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