There are certain actors who are renowned not just for their on-screen work, but also for their compassionate nature. Gary Sinise is undoubtedly one of those exceptional individuals. You might recognize him from his roles in “The Green Mile” or “Of Mice and Men,” but it’s his portrayal of Lieutenant Dan in “Forrest Gump” that lingers in our memories.
While Gary Sinise has achieved tremendous success as an actor, his contributions to Hollywood pale in comparison to the remarkable work he has undertaken for American veterans. In 2011, he established the Gary Sinise Foundation, an organization dedicated to serving all three branches of the US military.
The foundation’s initiatives encompass building smart homes for injured veterans and organizing concerts and shows for military personnel, both domestically and internationally. Remarkably, the Gary Sinise Foundation manages to raise $30 million annually to support its noble cause.
In an interview with PEOPLE, Sinise candidly shared insights into the foundation’s work. He emphasized the transformative impact that a collective sense of responsibility could have on supporting veterans, stating, “If every person in every neighborhood around the country took a little bit of responsibility for patting these folks on the back, all the problems that we hear about with regards to veterans not getting services or falling through the cracks would disappear.”
Gary Sinise’s motivation to make a difference for the military community stems, in part, from his personal connection to the Vietnam War. Growing up during the war, he experienced a sense of guilt for being unaware of the sacrifices made by those serving. Sinise remarked, “I felt guilty that, when they were off at war, I was oblivious to what they were going through. I’ve just tried to give them something back.”
The tragic events of September 11, 2001, further strengthened Sinise’s resolve to support America’s troops. His dedication and selflessness have not gone unnoticed, as a group of influential individuals decided to express their appreciation for his contributions a few years ago. In a heartfelt video, celebrities like Jay Leno, Ron Howard, and Rob Lowe thanked Gary Sinise for his unwavering commitment to the troops. Even his co-star from “Forrest Gump,” Tom Hanks, sent a special message, saying, “Thanks, Lieutenant Dan!”
As Gary Sinise watches the video, his emotions overwhelm him, and tears well up in his eyes. The sincere messages of gratitude resonate deeply with him, affirming that his efforts have made a profound impact. Grateful is the word that best encapsulates Sinise’s sentiments, as evident in the title of his 2019 book, “Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service, by Gary Sinise.”