George W. Bush: "I miss Air Force One"

Former President George W. Bush speaks during a summit titled "Empowering Our Nation's Warriors," held at the George W. Bush Institute at Southern Methodist University Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Dallas.

Former President George W. Bush doesn’t miss much about being president, he said Wednesday, with one big exception: Air Force One.

“A lot of people ask me, you know, do I miss much about being president? And the answer is really no,” Mr. Bush said at an event in Dallas focused on veterans, according to The Hill newspaper.

“I mean, I miss the people I served with. I miss Air Force One. In eight years they never lost my baggage," he said, drawing some laughs from the crowd.

The event, sponsored by Mr. Bush’s presidential library, was intended to help coordinate assistance for veterans returning home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, both launched by Mr. Bush in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks

“I do miss saluting men and women who volunteered to defend our nation during war," he said. "Many are coming home and are preparing for new missions as civilians, and I intend to salute these men and women for the rest of my life.”

At the event, the former president praised the work being done for veterans by first lady Michelle Obama and second lady Dr. Jill Biden as part of their “Joining Forces” initiative, which focuses, in part, on helping veterans transition back into civilian life with job training and education programs.

Mr. Bush said it shouldn’t be surprising that some veterans have difficulty translating their military skillset into a civilian role. “I mean you don’t see many job postings that say, ‘Wanted: experience hunting insurgents and terrorists, willing to risk life for coworkers,’” he said. “What’s a veteran supposed to put down? My last office was a Humvee?”

"Hiring veterans is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do," Mr. Bush said, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “As someone who has employed a lot of people in my career, I’ve learned that you can always teach skills…What matters most in an employee are qualities like character and values, work ethic and responsibility. That’s what veterans bring.”

And to prove his point that you can always teach an old dog new tricks, Mr. Bush cited his own new hobby. “At the Bush Center we believe it’s never too late to learn a new skill,” he explained. “Just ask Laura … a few years ago she didn’t think she was marrying an oil painter.”