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George W. Bush highlights military veterans in new book 'Portraits of Courage'

Former president George W. Bush's new book features his paintings of inspiring military veterans along with their stories of perseverance.
/ Source: TODAY

Combining his twin passions of painting and working to help military veterans, former president George W. Bush's new book aims to help those who have served our country in their transition to civilian life.

Bush appeared on TODAY Monday with a special group of four veterans for an exclusive interview about his new book, "Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors."

"People ask me, do you miss being president?'' he said. "The answer is, not really. But I miss saluting people who volunteer to wear the uniform."

The book features paintings by Bush of several veterans and an in-depth look at their stories of perseverance after suffering from visible wounds on the battlefield as well as PTSD and other invisible trauma.

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"It starts with — and this is why these vets are very important — vets saying, 'I've got a problem,''' Bush told Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie. "There's a lot of denial because there's a stigma. Our message is that it's courageous to talk about it and seek help."

Bush will donate proceeds of the book, which can be pre-ordered online, to the George W. Bush Presidential Center, a non-profit organization that helps post-Sept. 11 veterans and their families make successful transitions to civilian life.

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Army Sgt. Major Christopher Self, Army First Lt. Melissa Stockwell, Army Sgt. First Class Michael Rodriguez and Air Force Master Sgt. Israel Del Toro appeared alongside Bush to speak about their lives after the military. They later continued the conversation in a Facebook Live interview.

The four veterans are also featured in a 10-part digital series on TODAY focusing on their inspiring individual stories, which are included in the book.

The group also spoke about how Americans can help returning veterans in their transition to civilian life.

"They don't need a handout, they don't want favors — they want opportunities,'' Self said. "They're out there, give them the opportunity."

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.