Gary Sinise Shares How He Started Serving Vets

Photo from Gary Sinise Foundation’s Instagram

Gary Sinise Shares How He Started Serving Vets

By Movieguide® Contributor

The Gary Sinise Foundation hosted a free concert for Memorial Day weekend.  

For many people, the holiday weekend signifies grilling, spending time outdoors and maybe evening time on the lake.  

However, for Sinise, it means honoring the members of the U.S. military who died while serving.  

It also means hosting free concerts for veterans and the public alike. This year’s concert was dedicated to the Vietnam veterans 50 years ago.  

Sinise spoke into the microphone at the concert and said, “When they came home from war, it was a bad time in our country. They didn’t get any kind of welcome home. Many of them kind of disappeared into the shadows because it was not a good time to be a Vietnam veteran. You know, I just want to do something to acknowledge that we do welcome them home. We do celebrate them. We do appreciate their service to our country.”  

He added, “Back in the ’80s, I was very involved with supporting various Vietnam veterans’ organizations in Chicago. And, you know – and then, after playing the disabled veteran in “Forrest Gump,” that kind of turned a little bit of a corner toward trying to help our wounded, but it really all just kind of catapulted after the attacks of September 11.”  

Sinise went on to tell the crowd about his volunteer trips for the USO.  

Sinise stated, “On one of the early trips – I mean, it was a big trip – big entertainment tour – giant tour in June of ’03. And Kid Rock was on that tour, and Lee Ann Womack was on that tour. And, gosh, and I was just, you know, Gary Sinise, Lt. Dan, actor, waving to the troops and that kind of thing. But after I did five or six of those handshake tours where I’d just go out on my own, I finally convinced the USO to let me take the musicians with me that I knew – the garage band players that I had. And so it started very grassroots back in – you know, 20 years ago, very rough. There’s 13 members of the band. There’s only three or four of us that were there in the beginning. And the rest of them have come aboard, you know, since then.’  

He continued, “We’ve played a lot of shows. We’ve played 500-something shows. And we’ve played in the war zones, and we’ve played in hospitals. And we’ve – oh, gosh, you know, Kuwait and Kandahar. And, I mean, we’ve been all over the place. And that’s what the band is for. The band is – I don’t play for a living. I – you know, I make my living as an actor, and I play for the mission of lifting spirits and raising people up. That’s what I do with the band. So money that people contribute to the Gary Sinise Foundation allows me to do things like this today, which is provide a festival atmosphere at a military base and lift people up and raise their spirits and bring some joy and some fun.” 

Sinise concluded, “This is a foundation I started to give back to the men and women who protect our country and defend our cities. And, you know, we want them to know they’re appreciated.”  

Movieguide® recently reported on Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band:  

The Gary Sinise Foundation plans to host a free concert for Memorial Day weekend. In addition, the “Welcome Home: A Celebration of Vietnam Veterans” concert will be open to the public.   

A special musical appearance will be made by Gary Sinise and the LT. Dan Band where Sinise will play the bass.   

Criminal Minds star, Joe Mantegna, is set to be the Emcee for the event and other special guests will be made by America’s Tenor, Steve Amerson, and Sammy Davis, Medal of Honor Recipient and Vietnam Veteran.   

The Sinise Foundation posted on their website, “Join us as we celebrate our nation’s Vietnam Veterans and together, say “Welcome Home.” This free event is a salute to their service and is open to the public. It will include actor/director Joe Mantegna as our Master of Ceremonies, incredible special guests, and a rockin’ performance by Gary Sinise & the Lt Dan Band. You won’t want to miss this!”   

Gary Sinise posted the event flyer on his Instagram and stated, “Hey there, all @rollingtoremember Veterans and our patriotic folks in the DC area during Memorial Day Weekend, please join me May 26th for a free “Welcome Home” Concert Celebration of our Vietnam Veterans at Constitution Hall with my pal Joe Mantegna as our Master of Ceremonies and I’ll be rockin’ out with my LT Dan Band. Check my bio link for tickets and come on out to salute our Vietnam Veterans.”   

The Sinise Foundation posted on Instagram as well, “Reserve your free tickets today to join @garysiniseofficial in Washington D.C. on May 26 for a Vietnam Veterans “Welcome Home” Celebration of Service Concert! This free event is a salute to their service and is open to the public at Constitution Hall. GSF Ambassador @joemantegna is our Master of Ceremonies, and Gary Sinise will be there rockin’ out with the rest of the Lt. Dan Band!”   


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