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Rep. Gabrielle Giffords returning to Tucson district for first time since shooting

June 17, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will return to Tucson for the first time since she was nearly killed there in an assassination attempt five months ago, her office said Friday.

There will be no public appearances during what is described in a statement as a "brief private visit with her family" this Father's Day weekend.

"We've been dreaming of this trip for some time," Mark Kelly, Giffords' astronaut husband, said in the statement, in which he also asked the public to respect her privacy. "Gabby misses Tucson very much and her doctors have said that returning to her hometown could play an important role in her recovery. It is sure to be very emotional."

Photos: Gabrielle Giffords shooting in Arizona

The three-term Democrat was discharged Wednesday from the Houston hospital where she has been rehabilitating since the January shooting rampage at a constituent event that killed six and wounded dozens more.

Giffords' staff has been handling the day-to-day workload of her congressional office while she recovers. Her chief of staff told the Arizona Republic last week that even though Giffords has made incredible strides in her recovery, she still struggles to communicate.

"For five long months, Gabby has been living and working in the rehab facility in Houston," Kelly said. "Now that she is an outpatient, her first priority is coming home to the place that is such a source of strength for her."

The pace of her recovery will be the main determinant of whether she attempts to seek another term in 2012.

Since her release from Houston's TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital, Giffords has been staying at her husband's League City, Texas home. Her only other trip outside the Houston area was to Cape Canaveral for the May 16 launch of the Endeavour shuttle mission her husband commanded.

Photos: Gabrielle Giffords shooting in Arizona

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