Gary Sinise Advocates for ‘Struggling’ Vets Who Served After 9/11
By Movieguide® Contributor
FORREST GUMP star Gary Sinise revealed that veterans who enlisted and served following 9/11 are in “tremendous need” of support.
“If you’re somebody that lived through that, multiple deployments throughout that time, saw friends lose their lives, get hurt, go into the hospitals, have to suffer terrible injuries and live with those injuries. And then you wonder, like why we went through all that,” Sinise told CBS News.
“People are struggling and suffering. We want them to know that regardless of what happened, their service mattered,” he added.
Despite their service to our country, many veterans lack support when they return to civilian life.
The National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report adds that veterans experience a higher suicide rate than non-veterans.
“What happened after Sept. 11 was something that changed my life completely,” Sinise continued. “And it turned me from, you know, more of a focus on my acting career and the movie business and the theater stuff and television and all those things, to kind of doing something positive for others.”
“With what happened on September 11th and the deployments of so many of our troops to Afghanistan and Iraq and the sacrifices they and their families were making and the the wounded coming home and losing so many of our soldiers, I just started to turn my life towards serving them,” he explained in a video.
In the wake of 9/11, the actor established The Gary Sinise Foundation to serve “our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.”
“We do this by creating and supporting unique programs designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen, and build communities,” the foundation’s website states.
Sinise is best known for his role as Lt. Dan in FORREST GUMP, and he believes the character sheds light on veterans in need.
“If you look at the story of Lieutenant Dan, it is very positive in the end,” he expressed. “He’s a Vietnam veteran who survives and moves on and thrives. And that’s the story we want for everybody who’s wounded in battle, and to come home and be able to move on and go, go forward.”
“I want the Gary Sinese Foundation to be as strong as possible so that our outreach is wide. And we can help as many people as possible in the coming years. And my goal would be to just stand up an organization that can live beyond me and keep going to help people,” Sinise declared. “That’s my goal.”
In 1994, Sinise played the role of Lt. Dan in the hit movie FORREST GUMP. The character was a combat veteran injured in the line of duty during the Vietnam War.
“I got so many letters from Vietnam veterans and people reaching out to me who were moved by the story of Lt. Dan,” Sinise told the AARP. “Many from service members who had been wounded in combat…”
“When I walked out on stage, there were more than 2,000 wounded veterans in the audience, going back all the way to World War II,” Sinise explained. “They were applauding me for playing Lt. Dan, and I was presented with an award for my ‘hard work’ on the film.”
He continued, “Hard work? Compared with what the people in that ballroom had endured, my job wasn’t close to that. All I’d done was say my lines. Hard work was being far from home, up to your elbows in dust and facing the enemy. Hard work was losing a limb, or worse, and having to carry on.”
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