Mick Foley visits recovering troops

Mick Foley thought of it as a simple goodwill gesture. Visiting injured soldiers and marines recovering from injuries suffered fighting the nation's war on terrorism was his way of giving back.

But one visit turned into another and then another. And at last count, Foley has been to places like the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, more than 20 times over the last 20 months, lifting the spirits of our troops as part of a United Service Organization (USO) program.

"Like everyone else, I watched the war proceedings on television," Foley said. "And I felt kind of guilty and helpless because I wasn't doing anything. But I realized a lot of these soldiers were probably teenagers when I was in my prime. So I made a call, and a few days later I was visiting soldiers and marines."

And he hasn't stopped since.

It turns out Foley gets just as much out of the visits as the troops. Also, Foley doesn't just limit his visit to the hospitals and rehab centers. He's taken field trips with many of the soldiers, attending basketball, hockey, and most recently, a Washington Nationals baseball game at RFK Stadium.

"I fully expected my first visit to be my last, but I actually had my spirits lifted," Foley said. "I connected with a lot of the soldiers, and I think they felt comfortable with me and the character I played, who was close to my real personality anyway."

Ironically, Foley, who is getting ready to embark on a major book tour, never received any attention for his visits until now. A Washington Times story earlier this week chronicled his last visit to Walter Reed, quoting many soldiers who appreciated Foley's time and attention.

"These guys can see who's there for the right reasons and who's not," Foley said. "I never did this for publicity. I've actually made some personal friends." 

Foley is most proud of the progress he's seen many of the soldiers make as they recover from their sometimes serious injuries.

"I've seen guys in pretty bad shape," Foley said. "But I've also seen them get better. I've been there on days when they get their new leg and are so happy and I've been there when others have been able to check out."

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