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Hollywood Actor Dedicates Himself To Helping Wounded Vets: 'We Can Never Do Enough'

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It’s easy to bash Hollywood. After all, it seems every other day a new story comes out revealing that entertainment elitists are involved in yet another sexual harassment scandal or heaping disdain on conservatives and heartland America in general.

But not every actor is like that. There are some — admittedly few — who have been quietly doing the right thing for years. Gary Sinise has been doing it for decades.

The fairly soft-spoken actor may be most famous for his role as Lieutenant Dan, the troubled Vietnam soldier in 1994’s “Forrest Gump.” Sinise went on to acclaimed roles in productions including “Apollo 13” and “CSI: NY,” but his true passion has always been helping real-life American veterans.

In a recent interview with Fox News, the man behind Lieutenant Dan revealed that he had been working with vets long before being given the chance to play one.

“A full 10, 12 years (before filming), I’d been working with Vietnam veterans in Chicago,” the actor explained. “I had supported them in various ways, so when the opportunity came up to play a Vietnam veteran, a wounded Vietnam veteran, with a positive ending to his story, I very much wanted to do that.”

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It’s safe to say that his role in Forrest Gump had a big impact on how Sinise is perceived. “I was blessed to be able to get that part and be in such a popular film, a good film. Lieutenant Dan has meant a lot to me,” he acknowledged.

The Academy Award-nominated role could have gone to his head. Instead, it seemed to humble him, and Sinise re-focused on assisting veterans who often go underappreciated in America.

“Throughout the ‘90s, Sinise worked on behalf of the Disabled American Veterans organizations. He also embarked on several USO handshake tours in 2003 and then formed the Lt. Dan Band in early 2004,” Fox reported.

“Sinise and his group then began entertaining the troops serving at home and abroad. Lt. Dan Band now performs close to 30 shows a year at military bases, charities and fundraisers supporting wounded heroes,” the outlet continued.

Are you a fan of Lieutenant Dan?

“(W)e can never do enough as far as I’m concerned to support them,” Sinise said about his latest projects to help veterans. “They’re out there every day defending our freedom, sacrificing each and every day. … We want to do everything that we can to show our appreciation.”

Eight years ago, he also founded the Gary Sinise Foundation which works to help veterans and first responders. Even though the foundation bears his real name, however, countless people still see him as Lieutenant Dan — and he’s perfectly fine with that.

“I found out that when I started visiting our wounded in the hospitals and walking into those hospitals, they would look at me and they would recognize me as Lt. Dan,” Sinise told Fox. “They wouldn’t know what my real name as, but they’d call me Lt. Dan.”

Instead of being annoyed with his association with a fictional character, the actor has embraced it as an advantage.

“They (wanted) to talk about the story of Lt. Dan and how positive it was at the end for him,” Sinise pointed out.

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“He’s recovered at the end. He’s standing up on new legs,” the actor explained about his iconic role.

“He’s moving on with his life, and every one of our wounded soldiers, every one of our wounded service members, they want that story,” he continued. “They want to be able to move on and be OK. And that’s just what I’m trying to help them do.”

In a culture that elevates narcissistic actors and often looks down on blue-collar Americans including veterans, we could use more people like Gary Sinise — and Lieutenant Dan would certainly agree.

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Benjamin Arie is an independent journalist and writer. He has personally covered everything ranging from local crime to the U.S. president as a reporter in Michigan before focusing on national politics. Ben frequently travels to Latin America and has spent years living in Mexico.




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