Gary Sinise Uses Fame to Help Veterans

    November 4, 2013
    Brian Powell
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Forrest Gump is often referred to as America’s iconic movie. The 2.5 hour movie takes its audience on a journey throughout American history during the latter half of the 20th century and is known for its character portrayals. Perhaps the most impactful performance in the movie comes from Gary Sinise, who plays Lt. Dan – a military veteran who loses both his legs during the Vietnam War.

That performance in 1994 has not only impacted viewers for nearly 20 years, but has also left a major impact with Gary Sinise. Now, 19 years after Forrest Gump was released and with the end of “CSI: New York”, Sinise’s career focuses on supporting the United States military:

“I have made it a particular mission to do what I can to draw attention to our military and first responder communities and to make sure they know they are remembered and appreciated. Whether through performing with the band, supporting a military charity or visiting the war zones and hospitals to shake some hands and take some pictures, all of it helps them know that there are people out there who are aware of their sacrifices and who understand the importance of keeping our military families strong in difficult times. It is important to remember that these defenders are volunteers.”

Sinise is the bass guitar player in the Lt. Dan Band, a band Sinise formed to tour and raise money for veterans. That band, partnered with the Gary Sinise Foundation and the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, have all contributed to the Building for America’s Bravest™ project – a program which was designed to build smart-homes for those wounded in combat.

Saturday, Sinise and his band played an event in Memphis, Tn to honor Cpl. Christian Brown, who lost both of his legs when he stepped on an IED in December 2011 in Afghanistan. The money raised from this event will be used to construct a smart-home for Cpl. Brown. These smart-homes feature many helpful accommodations, such as automated doors, wheel-chair accessible spaces, and iPad controlled electronics: “It’s just frustrating. It’s not really … that difficult. In fact there are so many things that on such a small level, on a day-to-day basis it just starts to add up. It stretches you out a little bit. You wish things could be easy and jump up and do things like everybody else. (The Smart Home) is going to help me with the transition,” stated Cpl. Brown.

Since the inception of the Building for America’s Bravest™ project, Sinise and others have helped raised money to build or start construction on 27 different homes for US veterans and have raised more than $11 million. Despite the success his ventures have had, Sinise never believed he would be in this position:

“When I played Lt. Dan in ‘Forrest Gump’ I never thought that 20 years later I’d still be associated with the character. I knew it was an important movie and I very much wanted to play the part. I have Vietnam veterans in my family and have been associated with Vietnam veterans groups for many years prior to that. So, I really wanted to play the [‘Forrest Gump’] part. But could have I predicted that 20 years later people would still call me that? And I’d walk into the hospital room of a double amputee and he would recognize me for that? And that would open the doors for a conversation? No. I couldn’t have predicted that.”

Image via Twitter

  • walt 66

    Lt. Dan, this old MP salutes you sir.

  • Marilyn H.

    Blessings to Gary Sinise. Thank GOD for his contribution to the Veterans. Too bad the Government cannot do the same and has to rely on people with great hearts like Gary Sinise to help the Veterans out for their sacrifices for their Country.

  • susanbrunkhorst

    Thank you for speaking out for veterans. My uncle Melvin J. Brunkhorst was a Naval Commander in WWII Two of my brothers served in the Navy during Vietnam and my son served in Iraq… As a member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the VFW, as was my grandmother, I wANT TO PROMOTE THE status of our veterans, many of whom joined the armed services in their youth during peace time!

  • http://yahoo Danny Toguchi

    Gary Sinise, man, I cant thank you and your band enough! Your dedication to our military and welfare is just above and beyond. I can say that I have had the privilege to see and meet you and your band back in 2007 in US Navy Seabee Base, Port Hueneme CA, it was awesome! I was amazed at how good your band was, and how you inspired the crowd and gave positive direction to those who still had loved ones deployed, I cannot thank you enough! You are a HERO in itself!

    • Malinois71

      What time in 2007? Are you with MNCB 17?

  • joseph liegel

    God bless you Gary……If only the majority of Americans felt the way you did. Continue the wonderful work. I am former military, now a Department of Defense civilian working outside the continental United States. I have dedicated my life to serving our wonderful nation, although I have not lived in it for years. It is good to see others doing the same. Bravo Zulu for a job well done.

  • Colleen

    You’re one of the good guys.

  • Marie

    I can’t believe how one character in a movie could become so loved and enduring to audiences. Of all the characters he has played it’s this character that stands out the most. I must admit I find myself relating to whatever character he plays as Lt. Dan. I can only hope that I create a character that’s as loved and remembered as his. He’s one of the few Hollywood celebrities who have embraced the Military. Thank you Gary for your unwavering courage to stand firm for our Military in Hollywood.

  • Spacewaste

    It’s great that Gary “uses his fame” to help veterans! And of course, he’s known worldwide as “THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS PHAGUETTE!!” Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Michael Ellard

    I’m a Viet Nam Vet and I’m so impressed with Mr. Sinise and also a HUGE fan! Thanks Lt. Dan!

  • Joe Hartnagel

    American Heroes
    In my life I’ve never seen, the face of war or what it brings.
    For there’ve been those who gave their lives, for my freedom for my rights.
    American Heroes are they all.
    Ensuring liberty for each and for all.

    I don’t know their names, I could only imagine their faces,
    as they head out to fight in faraway places.
    American Heroes are they all.
    Protecting ‘Ol Glory as she stands proud and tall.

    And for those whom didn’t return, the eternal flame shall forever burn.
    American Heroes of the past, memories of your actions shall forever last.
    American Heroes are they all.
    Making the sacrifice for peace whenever the call.

    In the land of the free and the home of the brave, we’ll always be grateful to those who gave.
    They are Americas’ Sons and Americas’ Daughters, serving proudly to protect our borders.
    American Heroes are they all,
    Defending freedom for one and all!

    May God Bless Our Troops!

  • Joy Bradford

    Thank you Mr. Sinise for helping our troops and to bring attention to America’s most brave. A lot of actors only think about themselves and don’t use their fame for a greater cause. There will be a special place in heaven for you and for all celebrities that put aside their own agenda and help this country recover. God Bless you and yours Mr. Sinise! Joy – Mission Viejo, CA