Actor Gary Sinise was honored Thursday by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society for his work supporting America’s wounded warriors.
During a ceremony at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, he was awarded the Patriot Award, the highest honor given out by the organization, according to KABC.
In 2004, Sinise formed the Lt. Dan Band, which plays for active-duty troops and veteran. In 2011, he established the Gary Sinise Foundation, which has adapted 70 smart homes for veterans who suffered crippling wounds in the service of their nation.
Sinise’s role as Lt. Dan in the movie “Forrest Gump” was a pivotal moment in his life, he said in an interview with the USO.
“[W]hen you see the story of Lt. Dan, that’s a hopeful story for our … wounded veterans, because he’s a wounded combat veteran and he is also able to be successful in life,” Sinise said. “He’s married at the end and he’s standing up on new legs. You never thought you’d see him out of the wheelchair.”
“I could not have foreseen that the Lt. Dan character would be a character that has a life of its own beyond the movie,” he said. “I think part of that is because, when I started working with the USO and visiting our hospitals and meeting this entire new generation of amputees, the character and its relation to me became sort of a conversation piece with our wounded in the hospitals. It’s been a blessing and a benefit to be able to have this association with wounded in our military community.”
Sinise said that the aftermath of Sept. 11 also changed him, according to Time.
“Quite frankly, if we hadn’t been attacked on Sept. 11, and we didn’t deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, and our people didn’t start getting hurt and killed, I don’t know what I’d be doing right now,” he said. “After we were attacked and [I saw] those images of what happened that day, and then our troops were deployed and getting hurt and killed, something clicked in me, and I just wanted to do something.”
Sinise’s activities span the country.
Last month, retired Army Maj. Jeremy Haynes and his family moved into a new smart home in Virginia that has doorways made to accommodate the wheelchair he needs because he was left paralyzed after being shot in Afghanistan.
Sinise and his foundation helped build the house, according to WJLA.
“The house that stands before us is a small symbol of that gratitude and a deep respect from a grateful nation,” Sinise said in a recording that welcomed Haynes to his new home.
We’re thrilled to announce that retired Army Major, Jeremy Haynes, and his family received the keys to their specially adapted smart home in Clifton, Virginia. From all of us at the Gary Sinise Foundation, and our dedicated sponsors and donors, welcome home Haynes family. pic.twitter.com/9yVHICRyGB
— GarySiniseFoundation (@GarySiniseFound) January 31, 2020
Sinise said last year that serving veterans should transcend politics,
“How have our defenders become a political issue? They defend us all. They are us all,” he argued. “There are Democrats who serve our country, there are Republicans who serve our country.”
Sinise said everyone can do something for veterans.
“I know that not everybody can get on an airplane and go over to a hospital in Germany or travel to war zones or do all the things that I’m doing,” he said. “[But] if everybody in every neighborhood, in every community, in every city, in every town and in every state took a little bit of responsibility to reach out to the military families and say, ‘What do you need? What can I do to help you?’, the problems that veterans have [would be] minimized.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.