The new organization aims to provide programs to honor, educate, support,and entertain servicemen, their families, and people in need
“We’re a staff-specific mission,” Sinise said at a function at the National Press Club last week. “We’ll be working with a lot of different organizations.”
Some of those organizations include include the United Service Organization (USO), Operation International Children, Snowball Express, Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial, Fisher House Foundation, People to People International, Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, TAPS – Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, The FDNY Fire Family Transport Foundation, Hope For The Warriors, The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, The Navy Seal Foundation, and Disabled American Veterans.
A recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal, Sinise is the second actor, along with Elizabeth Taylor, to be awarded the honor. Sinise is spokesperson for the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial Foundation and co-founder of Operation International Children. He has traveled several times with the USO to entertain U.S. troops Iraq and Afghanistan with the USO. He also appeared in the Fox News documentary “On the Road in Iraq with our Troops and Gary Sinise” and starred in such major films as “Apollo 13,” and “Ransom,” “The Forgotten,” “The Human Stain.”
Despite his patriotism, Sinise told those gathered at the National Press Club that he had no intention of running for political office, but he did offer Congress some advice for their support of returning veterans: “Cut through all the red tape, all the bureaucracy, and just get down to business. The government can only do so much, I realize that. But it shouldn’t take forever to get your benefits. There are a lot of veterans in need out there. We have three million of them who are disabled. The country must take responsibility, find that returning warrior a job. That community support is critical.”
Sinise received an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Lt. Dan in “Forrest Gump”, and named his band – which regularly entertains troops – after the character. He says he has got used to being referred to by the name.
“It’s just something that happened, that movie,” he said. “It was so popular, ‘Forrest Gump.’ About a month after I did the film, I got introduced to the Disabled American Veterans. They liked the way I did it. They saw it as a kind of therapy for shattered veterans. He’s successful. He goes on with his life. So how could I say, ‘Hey, don’t call me that’? The character is alive for them. How can you not be grateful for that?”
Sinise has done hundreds of personal appearances and concerts with the Lt. Dan Band worldwide, mostly for military related organizations. He has participated in over 40 tours and made over 150 appearances for the USO alone, and traveled to bases in Alaska and throughout the US, and overseas to locations such as Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, Belgium, The UK, The Netherlands, Italy, UAE, Qatar, Korea, Singapore, Diego Garcia, Okinawa and Guantanamo Bay, raising the spirits and boosting morale of hundreds of thousands of troops and their families.
The launch of the new foundation coincides with the release of Jonathan Flora’s documentary “Lt. Dan Band: For The Common Good”. During the 30-day online release, when people stream the film at www.LtDanBandMovie.com , one out of every four dollars will go to the Gary Sinise Foundation to support its programs.
“Jonathan has made a beautiful film that captures the dedication and sacrifice of our troops, first responders and their families and what it means to give back to them,” said Sinise. “I am honored to be a part of it. He first approached me about filming some of the work I was doing in support of our troops just after my third trip to Iraq with the USO. I was a bit unsure about doing it but he convinced me that it would be treated in the right manner, with honor and respect. He wasn’t kidding, and I am very happy that I accepted his offer.”
“Lt. Dan Band: For The Common Good” is a film about remembering, remembering those who serve, those who are willing to lay down their lives for others, and those who are left behind," added Jonathan Flora. “Remembering our heroes likewise, inspires us to give back. The spirit of giving and gratitude that Gary displays and therefore inspires is why I decided to make this movie. That is also why we have chosen this unique cause-driven release for the film. Our ultimate goal is to inspire others to give back”