Actor Gary Sinise is a well-known celebrity within the military community — and for good reason. His name has become synonymous with supporting the troops.
I’ve traveled across the United States, around the world, and back again. I made stops in several USO facilities along the way to find some refuge from the often-long travels. These facilities have a very welcoming vibe and are often a beacon of light for weary service members as they head to some very rough places in the world. The atmosphere is reminiscent of visiting a hometown after a long absence.
The volunteers of the USO seem to always be happy to greet the visitors that enter through the doors. Upon arrival, those associated with the military are offered snacks and refreshments.
Throughout my journeys, I’ve noticed that in almost every single facility that I have visited, an autographed photo of Gary Sinise is proudly displayed. A sincere message typically accompanies the photo. Sinise has been supporting military members and veterans for decades now. After his very heartfelt performance as Lt. Dan in the movie “Forrest Gump” — in which he played a severely wounded combat veteran — Sinise began working closely with wounded and disabled veterans.
He has received several awards throughout the years for his selfless service to the military and first responders. He’s also founded an organization — the Gary Sinise Foundation — that provides a host of service to veterans, including providing smart homes for severely wounded and disabled veterans. The foundation also puts on the Invincible Spirit Festival, which honors wounded service members in addition to their caregivers and hospital staff. If these amazing programs weren’t enough, there’s even more that the Gary Sinise Foundation sponsors.
One of the most touching is the Soaring Valor program, which works with WWII veterans and provides them with transportation to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans where they can participate in making videos of their firsthand accounts of war. This incredible mission is so important for the preservation of history and to support the veterans belonging to the Greatest Generation.
In addition to his already huge efforts, Sinise founded the Lt. Dan Band. The band has traveled around the world entertaining troops and spreading awareness about veterans’ causes.
For his latest award, Gary Sinise has been selected for the Association of the United States Army’s highest award for public service, the George Catlett Marshall Medal. The medal is awarded for sustained commitment to the men and women of America’s armed forces.
It takes a very special person to use their status as a celebrity in a positive manner. Sinise has not only toured with the USO to dangerous locations to meet and support the troops, but continues his work whether or not he’s in the spotlight.
In a world of political statements and over-the-top antics carried out by many of Hollywood’s rich and famous, Gary Sinise has set the bar very high with his public service and sustained work with the military community.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Angelina Newsom is a U.S. Army veteran and an OpsLens contributor. She served 10 years in the military, including a deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. She studies criminal justice and is still active within the military community.