You could say Lt. Dan and Gary Sinise are inseparable. “I’ve been involved with honoring the troops for over 30 years. Playing Lt. Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump and the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts only amplified my passion for supporting these heroes. Establishing the Gary Sinise Foundation was a natural next step,” says Gary Sinise.
The Gary Sinise Foundation, established in 2011, helps veterans and their families rebuild their lives, physically, financially and emotionally. It hasmade significant strides in not only its outreach and impact, but also in defining new programs that will support its mission.
The foundation partnered with the Tunnel to Towers Foundation to establish Building for America's Bravest, a program that helps build one-of-a-kind custom smart homes for war veterans all across the nation.
“Without features designed specifically to meet their needs, the simple tasks of everyday life can present insurmountable challenges,” says Judy Otter, executive director of the Gary Sinise Foundation. By the end of 2013, the foundation estimates ground will be broken on 26 new “smart” homes.
A scholarship program was also established at the USC School of Social Work Center for Innovation and Research in 2011, supporting one student in its first year. It has since grown to support two students yearly.
With emotional health as a cornerstone of the foundation, the Relief & Resiliency Outreach program was established to provide complete support to those recovering from trauma and loss during times of urgent need.
One way to raise the spirits of veterans and their families through this program has been with entertainment. The foundation has provided wounded veterans, kids and families of fallen heroes trips to the set of Sinise’s show CSI: NY, and dinners with the cast and crew.
Sinise has musical chops, too, and heads up the Lt. Dan Band. They played more than 40 concerts, raising funds for wounded soldiers and their families, including 15 shows on military bases. In total, the band has entertained more than 50,000 troops. This year alone, they have performed 18 concerts, with nearly 50 concerts planned for the remainder of 2013.
“I’ve been called to this cause,” Sinise says. “I have a passion for helping our nation’s most severely wounded and their families. I know, as a public figure, that I can bring significant awareness to the challenges they face.”