The Soldiers' Advocate

Posted: Jun 10, 2013 6:00 PM
The Soldiers' Advocate

Gary Sinise may be a Hollywood star, but he’s devoted every spare moment of the past 10 years to serving those who serve us: veterans and active duty soldiers. Alicia Powe reports for Townhall Magazine.


He is a star who moonlights as a soldiers’ advocate. Still known to many as Lt. Dan, his Academy Award-nominated role as a platoon commander who lost both of his legs in Vietnam, this portrayal in the 1994 Oscar-winning film “Forrest Gump” helped motivate him further to do all he can to serve, honor and support our nation’s defenders, first responders and their families.

“Helping to keep our troops and veterans strong and ensuring their sacrifices are appreciated has been a great and rewarding privilege,” actor Gary Sinise told Townhall. “I have dedicated every spare moment to this work over the past 10 years.”

Sinise told Townhall that he has grown accustomed to and gained affinity for being known as his character. About a month after Sinise filmed “Forrest Gump,” he received a call from the Disabled American Veterans asking him to attend their national convention because they appreciated his performance as a disabled Vietnam veteran in the film.

“It was a very moving experience, something I will never forget, sitting in a room with thousands of disabled veterans and having them applauding me for playing a disabled veteran,” he explained. “They all wanted to call me Lt. Dan. They all related to me as Lt. Dan.”

Sinise has stood as an advocate of America’s servicemen and women for over 30 years. He created Vets Night in the early 1980s to support Vietnam veterans groups, which featured free dinners and performances for veterans at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. He also worked on behalf of the Disabled American Veterans organization, in which he still plays a role.

Sinise says he took America’s freedom for granted until 9/11, when he fully comprehended how vulnerable the United States is.

“I will never again take for granted how our freedom must be protected on a daily basis, minute by minute,” Sinise said.

Anxious to help active duty members and their families, he began by visiting a war zone, offering moral support, shaking hands, giving autographs and taking pictures with military service members. He visited the wounded in military hospitals. ...

Excerpted from Townhall Magazine's June Townhall of Fame feature by Alicia Powe. To read more of Powe's feature, subscribe to Townhall Magazine today.