DALLAS — As if bringing rock ‘n’ roll legends Journey to the stage wasn’t enough, the SRS Distribution Raise the Roof Foundation invited former President George W. Bush to help relay the importance of supporting military veterans and emergency responders.

Standing before a crowd of roughly 3,000 attendees of the 2020 International Roofing Expo at Gilley’s Dallas, President Bush thanked members of the roofing industry for their efforts to keep the U.S. economy moving in the right direction, while also giving back to those less fortunate.

“For those of you not from Texas, welcome to the promised land!” said the 43rd president of the United States. “Thank you for working hard to make our country great.”

Standing alongside former U.S. Marine Jacob Schick, who was seriously injured while serving in Iraq, the former president discussed some of the more difficult aspects of the job as commander in chief and what he misses most.

Schick is now CEO of 22Kill — a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping U.S. military veterans recovering from physical and mental challenges.

President Bush put his arm around Schick and said he’s often asked if he misses being president, to which he responded, “No, but I do miss looking into the eyes of the men and women who showed courage in the face of danger and saluting them.”

He then thanked the roofing contractors and other industry professionals in the room that are committed to hiring military veterans and giving them a chance to provide for their families while overcoming the challenges of re-acclimating to civilian life after their service.

SRS Distribution is among those companies and is about halfway to their goal of hiring 500 veterans, said company President and CEO Dan Tinker.

The energized crowd responded with cheers and chants of “U.S.A! U.S.A.!” Several also responded with their generosity, helping the SRS Foundation raise thousands of dollars during a live auction that included signed memorabilia from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame artists Journey and a signed book of President Bush’s artwork — which sold for $33,000.