Once upon a time, being a war amputee had its perks:
President Bush took a jog Tuesday with a soldier who lost part of both legs in Iraq, following through on a bedside promise even the president had doubts about at the time.
Despite a slight drizzle, Bush and Staff Sgt. Christian Bagge took a slow jog around a spongy track that circles the White House's South Lawn. About halfway through their approximately half-mile run, Bush and Bagge paused briefly for reporters.
"He ran the president into the ground, I might add," Bush said, as the two gripped hands in an emotional, lengthy shake. "But I'm proud of you. I'm proud of your strength, proud of your character."
Nowadays, eh ... that whole amputee attraction is wearing kinda thin.
Perks and stardom do not come to every amputee. Sgt. David Thomas, a gunner with the Tennessee National Guard, spent his first three months at Walter Reed with no decent clothes; medics in Samarra had cut off his uniform. Heavily drugged, missing one leg and suffering from traumatic brain injury, David, 42, was finally told by a physical therapist to go to the Red Cross office, where he was given a T-shirt and sweat pants. He was awarded a Purple Heart but had no underwear.
David tangled with Walter Reed's image machine when he wanted to attend a ceremony for a fellow amputee, a Mexican national who was being granted U.S. citizenship by President Bush. A case worker quizzed him about what he would wear. It was summer, so David said shorts. The case manager said the media would be there and shorts were not advisable because the amputees would be seated in the front row.
" 'Are you telling me that I can't go to the ceremony 'cause I'm an amputee?' " David recalled asking. "She said, 'No, I'm saying you need to wear pants.' "
David told the case worker, "I'm not ashamed of what I did, and y'all shouldn't be neither." When the guest list came out for the ceremony, his name was not on it.
Yes, missing limbs can be a downer, but look on the bright side -- they're going to need somebody for that next presidential photo-op. Why not you?