Actor Gary Sinise received an enormous award, the Patriot Award, this week by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society for all the work he does to support wounded veterans.
The Western Journal reports Sinise received the award at a ceremony at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California.
Sinise, who has spent decades serving veterans since he first played the role of Lt. Dan in the comedy-drama Forrest Gump, shared that he was inspired to give back to veterans for all they do for the country.
“[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 at the event. “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 continued, per the Western Journal. “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 he was also motivated to help veterans following the terror attacks on September 11th, 2001.
“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 admitted. “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 helps veterans throughout the country, from buying them homes to helping them find jobs and everything in between.
Sinise and his foundation most recently helped retired Army Maj. Jeremy Haynes and his family last month by purchasing them a home.
At the time, Sinise said: “The house that stands before us is a small symbol of that gratitude and a deep respect from a grateful nation.”
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
According to the report, Sinise said in 2018 that helping veterans should transcend politics, hoping everyone does something to help veterans—whatever they can afford to do within their own means.
“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 at the time. “[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.”