SAN ANTONIO – President Bush began the new year on Sunday by visiting wounded U.S. service members at a Texas medical facility.
Bush, who ended his six-day vacation at his Texas ranch, met with 51 male and female service members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Many of these troops understand that by defeating the enemy there, we don't have to face them here," Bush told reporters during remarks at the hospital. "I am resolved to make sure these kids who are recovering here, who have suffered terrible injury, that their injuries are not in vain by completing the mission."
The president awarded nine Purple Hearts to the service members at the Brooke Army Medical Center.
Bush also said his hopes for the new year include promoting peace worldwide and maintaining a strong economy.
"My hopes, of course, are for peace around the world," Bush said. "I'm going to continue to work as hard as I can for the foundation of peace."
The president boarded the Marine One presidential helicopter before dawn on his ranch in Crawford and flew more than an hour to Randolph Air Force Base. His motorcade drove to Brooke Army Medical Center, a 224-bed hospital at nearby Fort Sam Houston to meet with service members and their families.
"He thanks them for their service. He asks how they're doing. He is always interested in seeing if they are getting the kinds of care they need," said Trent Duffy, a spokesman for the White House, adding that not all the troops' injuries were sustained in combat.
Bush planned to return to the White House on Sunday after visiting the injured service members. He has no publicly scheduled events set for Monday, a federal holiday.
The president is scheduled to meet with a group of U.S. attorneys on Tuesday about the temporary renewal of the Patriot Act. Other events in the week include a speech at the Pentagon on Wednesday, a meeting with a bipartisan group of current and former secretaries of state and defense on Thursday and a trip to Illinois to visit the Chicago Board of Trade and a speech on the economy on Friday.
Bush spent six days at his Crawford, Texas, ranch. He spent time riding his bike, clearing brush and visiting with family. The president and first lady Laura Bush hosted her mother, Jenna Welch, on New Year's Eve with a steak dinner.
FOX News' Greg Kelly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.