Lifestyle & Human Interest

Gary Sinise and Home Depot Founders Team Up to Help Veterans Combat 'Invisible Wounds'


Actor Gary Sinise is a rare sight to behold in Hollywood.

Instead of soaking up accolades for his memorable performances and indulging in the celebrity lifestyle, Sinise dedicates most of his time to helping America’s veterans.

In 2011, the actor established the Gary Sinise Foundation, which has adapted nearly 70 smart homes for veterans who suffered severe wounds in service of their nation. But Sinise’s foundation also has launched an initiative to help the country’s heroes continue to heal  beyond their physical scars.

According to The Atlanta Jewish Times, Sinise is teaming with The Home Depot co-founders Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank to offer care to veterans and first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and substance abuse.

The initiative isn’t the first time Sinise has partnered with Marcus and Home Depot foundations. As The Atlanta Jewish Times reported in 2018, they joined forces for the smart homes project.

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Sinise’s latest partnership, however, involves Marcus and Blank donating $20 million each from their foundations to support the Gary Sinise Foundation Avalon Network.

The project, launched on Feb. 16, will build on the work that already has been completed by the Marcus Institute for Brain Health and the Boulder Crest Foundation’s Warrior PATHH program to establish 20 veteran service sites nationwide. (PATHH stands for Progressive and Alternative Training for Healing Heroes.)

The Marcus Institute for Brain Health in Colorado is one of 20 centers in the Avalon network, and it serves veterans and retired athletes with “mild to moderate traumatic brain injuries (including concussion) and changes in psychological health.”

Another endeavor that Sinise’s foundation will expand is the SHARE Military Initiative, which offers free therapies and counseling services to veterans and their families, a care model that the Avalon Network Sites also will implement.

The program was established in 2008 by a grant through The Marcus Foundation, and the plan is for the Avalon Network Sites to implement its care model.

In a video announcing the initiative, Sinise described how the epidemic of “invisible wounds has taken a tremendous toll on our nation’s heroes.” He added that these wounds often manifest in psychological forms such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the number of veterans with PTSD varies widely among service eras.

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About 11 to 20 percent of veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom have PTSD in a given year. For those who served in the Gulf War, that number is 12 percent. Meanwhile, it is estimated that about 30 percent of Vietnam Veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime.

“Sadly, and tragically, these invisible wounds too often can lead to suicide,” Sinise said.

“Improving mental health and lifting spirits are the heartbeat of everything we do at the Gary Sinise Foundation,” the actor added. “This was always my intention, my mission from the beginning — to always do a little more to be there for our nation’s defenders in their time of need.”

The actor also said the new initiative is part of his foundation’s “relief and resiliency program.” According to Sinise, the Avalon Network will “empower veterans and first responders to cope with and overcome trauma [to] transform lives.”

Sinise’s efforts on behalf of veterans and first responders serve as a reminder that certain causes transcend everything else, even the contentious worlds of politics and popular culture.

Providing relief to America’s defenders should unite the country, as both Democrats and Republicans owe gratitude to those who serve.

To avoid seeking further division, Americans should cease to judge others based on their political affiliation and instead rally behind a common cause that helps the country’s most deserving group.

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Samantha Kamman is an associate staff writer for The Western Journal. She has been published in several media outlets, including Live Action News and the Washington Examiner.
Samantha Kamman is an associate staff writer for The Western Journal. She has been published in several media outlets, including Live Action News and the Washington Examiner.