Jill Biden makes surprise visit to National Guard troops during first official event
(CNN) -- First lady Jill Biden used her first official event outside of the White House to add a surprise visit Friday afternoon to National Guard troops at the United States Capitol.
"I just wanted to come today to say thank you to all of you for keeping me and my family safe," said Biden, who emerged from her motorcade in a long black coat over a cream-colored dress and the same floral mask she had worn on inauguration night.
"I know you left your home states," said the first lady, noting that son Beau Biden had served in the National Guard. "The National Guard will always hold a special place in the hearts of all the Bidens."
Biden held a basket of treats tied with red, white and blue ribbon, which she passed out as tokens of gratitude.
"The White House baked you some chocolate chip cookies," she said. The guard members, who on Thursday night were unceremoniously relegated to the parking garage near the Capitol to sleep on the ground, expressed their thanks.
The first lady made her unscheduled stop at the Capitol after a planned visit to Whitman-Walker Health in downtown Washington, just a handful of blocks north of the White House.
Whitman-Walker is a nonprofit federally qualified health center that offers community-based health and wellness services, and specializes in LGBTQ and HIV care, according to a statement from the East Wing. The clinic also offers cancer support and navigation services to patients and caregivers. Biden was given a tour of the facility and listened as administrators outlined what has been working for them during the pandemic to reach patients, and what has not.
"Everybody needs more mental health work," said Biden, noting the overwhelming challenges facing health care providers and patients being outlined by a member of Whitman-Walker staff.
"We're in your corner," she added.
Like President Joe Biden, the first lady stressed the importance of getting a handle on the coronavirus.
"The first thing we have to do is address this pandemic," she said, clapping her hands for emphasis. Shortly thereafter, she was off to the Capitol to greet the troops and hand out the homemade cookies.
"You are all the best, thank you so very much," said Biden, who posed for a group photograph. The troops saluted her back, letting out a loud "hoo-ah!" in appreciation.
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