COLUMBUS, Ga. (Army News Service, Sept. 13, 2012) -- Kevin Butler's career as an Army officer nearly ended after he was seriously injured from an improvised explosive device in Iraq during 2007.

Butler endured 22 surgeries and 15 months in the hospital undergoing painful physical therapy and the Army thought returning to active duty was a step too far. He refused to give in though, and fought his superiors for the right to remain a Soldier. He won.

Lt. Col. Kevin Butler's determination and achievements recently earned him a brief one-on-one with former President George W. Bush.

Bush was the keynote speaker at the Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum in Columbus, Ga., just outside Fort Benning, Ga., where Butler commands a battalion of Infantry trainees. During a reception before the speech, Butler presented Bush with a framed 2012 Infantry Soldier Silver Dollar.

The commemorative coin is being produced in limited quantities by the United States Mint to honor the Infantry and commemorate the establishment of the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center. It is available for sale to the general public through mid-December. The law directing the Mint to create this coin was one of the last pieces of legislation signed by then-President Bush on Oct. 8, 2008.

The 43rd president told the forum audience he misses his connection to the U.S. military.

"I'm not poetic enough to describe what it means to salute a man or a woman who has volunteered in the face of danger," Bush said. "But ours is a unique country that produces hundreds of thousands of such individuals."

Despite a tight timeline and restrictions on socializing, Bush took time to chat and joke with Butler. He asked about the Soldier's injuries and recovery, and thanked Butler's wife for her efforts and support. Bush then presented Butler with a Presidential coin.

The Infantry Soldier Silver Dollar was launched in February. It was Butler's battalion, the 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry, 198th Infantry Training Brigade, whose Soldiers were selected to receive the first coins. Each member of the graduating class received one of the limited-edition coins.

To learn more about the coin, visit