Gary Sinise has never forgotten his role in the award winning film Forrest Gump as Lt. Dan. In fact, he said recently during an interview with ABC that he still embraces the role today.
"There's something different about this part," he said." "I've walked into so many hospital rooms and they look at me and they think I know what they're going through."
He formed the Gary Sinise Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising money for veteran initiative. Even though he didn't know firsthand how these veterans were suffering, he knew he had to do something to help them.
"I just couldn't not do anything," Sinise said. "I've seen a lot of need and I've become very committed to [being] somebody who can try to make a difference."
“There’s a hopeful ending to the story of Lieutenant Dan and all our wounded veterans want that story, that they can be standing up again and moving on with life and doing alright,” he continued. “The whole purpose is to send them home smiling. They should know what I’m trying to do here.”
In February Gary Sinise took a group of 50 wounded veterans from Walter Reed Bethesda, Fort Belvoir in Virginia, and Naval Medical Center San Diego to where this all began for him as Lt. Dan--Hollywood. He flew the solders on a private charter plane provided by American Airlines. The group even received a police escort as they drove through Los Angeles.
The first stop for Sinise and the wounded veterans was Disneyland. Disney welcomed them with open arms, free admission and a guide who moved them all to the front of the amusement lines.
Here's a photo with some of our wounded from Hollywood Salutes Heroes. C many more of this amazing event at http:/ http://t.co/yQydBj34NX
— Gary Sinise (@GarySinise) February 13, 2014
"After the injuries and all that, it feels like you can't go out in the world anymore," Staff Sgt. Michael Irish, one of the wounded veterans, said. "All you want to do is be in a dark room and just sleep it off… and now with Gary and his organization helping us… to have fun and be yourself, that's very important to all of us."
At Paramount Studios Gary Sinise arranged for a private showing of Forrest Gump, and Tom Hanks himself came to greet the group and mingle among them. Tom Arnold and Dan Danson showed up to visit with the troops, too.
Sinise has long set an example in Hollywood that's hard to beat. He has given of himself for wounded soldiers through his organization and his band--the Lt. Dan Band. He likely spends more time these days giving back than he does acting. Sinise stars in CSI: New York. Kudos to him and the fine, selfless work he does for U.S. veterans.
Image via YouTube