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Richmond veteran honored with portrait painted by President George W. Bush

Posted at 11:10 PM, Nov 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-17 23:16:36-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- A wounded warrior and avid bicyclist, Captain Kevin Rosenblum had the chance to meet the 43rd President twice, once last year and again a few months ago, thanks to his mountain bike.

"I applied and I was lucky enough to get selected," said Rosenblum, who served in the U.S. Army from 2004 to 2009, including two tours of Iraq.

Rosenblum says through an organization known as Team Red White and Blue he heard about President Bush's unique bike ride at his ranch in Texas.

the-bush-center

"He invites about half a dozen to 20 wounded post 9-11 veterans there to come ride for three days," said Rosenblum. "It's  100 kilometers over the three days."

The former President gets to lead the troops once again, only this time it's a peloton he's in front of all three days.

For the former Army Captain it was more than just an opportunity to ride with a former U.S. President.

Captain Kevin Rosenblum

Captain Kevin Rosenblum

"The biggest thing I took away from it is that it was completely non-partisan, non-political, the point of the ride is to support veterans and raise awareness for the invisible wounds of war," he said.

Rosenblum says he deployed shortly after being commissioned a 2nd Lt. and was wounded in a mortar attack.

"The mortar that hit most of us, hit right basically where we had been standing," Rosenblum recalled.

The Lt. caught a few pieces of shrapnel in his leg but refused to leave his troops. He would do a second tour before getting out of the Army and making his way to Virginia.

Captain Kevin Rosenblum

Captain Kevin Rosenblum

Rosenblum says he was aware going into the first ride, the President had taken up painting and did portraits of some of the veterans who visit his ranch.

After participating in the 2015 bike ride, Rosenblum attended the one day alumni ride a few months ago, but he never expected the email he recently got.

"Can you sign the waiver, because President Bush has painted a portrait of you and we're going to publish it and you need to sign the waiver," Rosenblum recalled, adding that he sent the waiver back almost immediately.

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Over the past several months, I've painted the portraits of 98 wounded warriors I've gotten to know - remarkable men and women who were injured carrying out my orders. I think about them on #VeteransDay and every day. Their paintings and stories will be featured in PORTRAITS OF COURAGE - a book and special exhibit - next spring, and I am donating all my proceeds to @thebushcenter and our Military Service Initiative's work to honor and support them. Click link in bio for more info.

A post shared by George W. Bush (@georgewbush) on

"It was amazing, the President, he's a great guy," said Rosenblum

That portrait and the others President Bush has done will go into a book called Portraits of Courage.

All the proceeds from the book are going to go to benefit the Military Service Initiative, which is a non-profit organization dedicated towards post 9-11 veterans.

But Rosenblum was quick to point out there is a also another reason the book is so important.

"It's more about making sure that the greater American public still realizes that we're at war, still realizes that there are veterans that struggle with issues associated with TBI and PTSD every day."