American Patriot Series: Gary Sinise

gary sinise wounded vet

A patriot is defined as “a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.”

The American Patriot Series acknowledges the activities of individuals, celebrities, and/or groups who have taken it upon themselves to give of their time, effort, and/or money to support active duty military personnel and our country’s veterans. Their actions identify them as a patriot and the purpose of this series is to recognize them as such.

During the December 25, 2015 edition of The O’Reilly Factor, Gary Sinise told Bill that he had been working with veterans since the 80s. In particular, he became involved with Vietnam Veterans groups and he created Vets Nighta program offering free dinners and performances to veterans at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago.” He also got involved with Disabled American Veterans.

Helping veterans was already important to him as family members had already served in the military. “His father served in the Navy in the 1950s, two of his uncles served in World War II, three brother-in-laws served in Vietnam, his sister-in-law served for 10 years, and his nephew served in Afghanistan and was recently accepted into the Green Berets.”

Soon after troops were deployed to Afghanistan, Sinise volunteered with the United Service organization (USO) in 2003.

But Gary Alan Sinise should already be familiar to everyone. The Internet Movie Data Base website lists him as having 51 credits as actor, director, narrator, and producer of movies, TV shows, documentaries, and videos. More recently, though, avid TV watchers might remember him in the show, “CSI: NY” which aired from 2004-2013.

But many may remember Sinise in his memorable performance as Lieutenant Dan Taylor in the 1994 movie, Forrest Gump.

And after that performance, the rest, as they say, is history because it changed his life.

In 2003, he founded the Gary Sinise Foundation whose mission is “to serve and honor our nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need by creating and supporting unique programs that entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen and build communities”

Part of the foundation is R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment). The program was “established to provide wounded heroes and their families with the necessary resources including home modifications, adapted vehicles, wheelchairs/trackchairs or constructing custom Smart Homes.”

In 2003, he co-founded The Lt. Dan Band (“Honor, Gratitude, Rock & Roll”), named after his character in Forrest Gump. Sinise said in December, 2015, that the band does about 35 concerts a year. And from 2003 to 2011, the band played hundreds of concerts across the world..

Sinise is also on the Advisory Council of Hope For The Warriors, a national non-profit dedicated to provide a full cycle of non-medical care to combat wounded service members, their families, and families of the fallen from each military branch.” Hope For The Warriors “works closely with Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and is building its Warrior Hope & Care Center in North Carolina.”

And, in August 2012, Sinise was made an honorary U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer for his efforts in helping veterans.

If you are not familiar with Sinise and his band, you can hear for yourself with dozens of videos that are found on You Tube. However, they will not give the inside story. For that, there is Lt. Dan Band: For The Common Gooda moving feature-length, award winning documentary that follows “Gary and his Lt. Dan Band around the world for nearly two years, including Kuwait and Iraq, we meet many of our brave men and women in uniform, our heroic first responders, their families and the wonderful citizens that support them.” A trailer for the movie is also available on You Tube.

Many of us Vietnam veterans easily remember the visits by Bob Hope and his entourage that sometimes included Ann-Margret, the Gold Diggers, Johnny Bench, Les Brown & his Band of Renown and astronaut Neil Armstrong.

One Vietnam Veteran, a helicopter pilot who flew missions with the 1st Cavalry Division brought to our attention Russ Vaughn’s article wherein he made the argument that Gary Sinise is The Bob Hope Of Our Time.

Sinise is one very busy man. Add to all of his aforementioned activities, Sinise is starring in a new television show, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borderswhich began on March 16, 2016.

Sinise also said on the December 2015 edition of Bill O’Reilly’s show, “I felt in some ways I was called to do this…There’s a thing I can provide, there’s a way I can do it, there’s a way that I can raise awareness, there’s a way I can give back.” Then he followed that statement with “Every single time I do it, I get so much nourishment out of it, I feel so enriched.”

Mr. Sinise, we are also enriched by knowing of your contributions to our first responders, active duty military personnel, veterans, and their families.

You are truly an American Patriot! And we salute you!

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Previous in this series:

American Patriot Series: Madison Rising, Part 1

American Patriot Series: Madison Rising, Part 2

Chuck Yarling has had many titles in his career thus far: veteran, engineer, math teacher, consultant, technical writer, book author and publisher, and triathlete. He was a member the Military Order of the Purple Heart and Bugles Across America, which plays Taps at military funerals and special events. Spec. 5 Chuck Yarling served with the 26th Combat Engineering Battalion in Vietnam as an awards clerk. His service with the U.S. Army resulted in being awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Army Commendation Medal. You may reach Chuck at [email protected]