Actor Gary Sinise, 63, has written a book in which he chronicles his personal journey from “self to service.” The book, Grateful American, reveals lesser-known details about Sinise’s family connections to the military, the emotional effect of playing “Lieutenant Dan” in 1994 blockbuster movie Forrest Gump, and the extraordinary success of the actor and author’s philanthropy.
Sinise’s passion for giving back to military veterans has seen him dedicate the last four decades of his life to the cause.
Grateful American: A Journey from Self to ServiceFebruary 12, 2019Pre-Order Book:www.gratefulamericanbook.comFree Chapter Here:www.thomasnelson.com/p/grateful-american-free-chapter
It would have been impossible for Sinise to ignore the call of the military: the connection runs deep. The actor’s grandfather served in WWI, two uncles fought in WWII, and his father, a film editor by trade, served in the Korean War. “All during the Vietnam War, I was just a high school kid playing in bands and getting in trouble,” Sinise recalled, in conversation with People. “I felt guilty … I was oblivious to what they were going through.”
“I’ve just tried to give them something back,” Sinise continued.
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Sinise advocates collective responsibility when it comes to honoring the sacrifices of United States military veterans. “If every person in every neighborhood around the country took a little bit of responsibility for patting these folks on the back,” Sinise advised, “all the problems that we hear about with regards to veterans not getting services or falling through the cracks would disappear.”
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Playing Lieutenant Dan—a Vietnam War veteran who loses his legs and sinks into a deep depression—in Forrest Gump gained an unexpected following for the actor. He poured his heart, soul, and decades of anecdotal experience into the role. Sinise’s portrayal of the traumatized lieutenant was so hauntingly accurate that the actor was invited to military conventions, asked to deliver motivational speeches, and was later commissioned for tours supporting the troops with United Service Organizations.
“He’s more than a character in a movie,” Sinise writes, in Grateful American. “He has become a symbol for our country’s collective awareness of all our injured veterans.”
Real-life events furthered the cause for Sinise. “Everything changed,” he told People, referring to the 9/11 attacks. “I started pushing myself into service work.” And push himself he did. In 2011, the actor founded the Gary Sinise Foundation, and over the years has begun spending the majority of his time and energy supporting the outreach work of the foundation.
His tireless work is having a real, tangible impact on veterans’ lives. Retired Army Sergeant Caleb Brewer moved into a new smart home in Tuscon, Arizona, on Feb. 6, 2019. The home was provided by the Sinise Foundation and is one of 59 similar housing projects. “I admire how genuine Gary is considering how many lives he’s reached,” Brewer said. “Gary is a beacon of light in our world.”
The Gary Sinise Foundation raises $30 million every single year, and 90 percent of that money goes directly to Sinise’s intended recipients: military veterans and their families. Smart homes for disabled veterans and restorative family trips to Disney World are but two of the ways the foundation’s money is making veterans’ lives better.
“Service is a great healer,” says Sinise.
If you are moved by stories of military service or want to show your support for the veterans, share Gary Sinise’s incredible story with friends and family, and leave us your comments below!