Gary Sinise, a conservative icon in Hollywood, used the recent anniversary of 9/11 to remind the public that soldiers and their families still have a “tremendous need” twenty years after the homeland attacks of 2001.
Among civilians who have never served in the armed forces, the Oscar winner is probably best recognized as Lieutenant Dan from the film Forrest Gump. While the part has followed him for decades, his off-set life has been dominated by his commitment to charitable causes.
What was once a hobby or diversion turned accidentally “into a full-time” occupation. Sinise claimed he “would’ve hung it up” a long time ago if it weren’t for the overwhelming need he saw in veteran communities. The Gary Sinise Foundation was established in 2011 with the intention of helping post-9/11 veterans and their families, but it has since become one of the nation’s most well-known and financially successful organizations of its kind.
The conservative learned that the veteran community needed more than just his celebrity status when he visited hospitals where their members had been injured in service to their country. The conservative leader understood the power of his platform to advocate for causes close to his heart, such as suicide awareness and prevention programs, educational scholarships, adaptive equipment for veterans, and food banks.
Sinise referred to the experiences of soldiers of the War on Terror as a “moral injury” and the resulting “suffering.” The Veterans Administration reports that the veteran suicide rate is over 60% higher than the general population.
Sinise, a rare conservative and gun rights supporter in Hollywood, has spoken publicly about his efforts to create a community for like-minded Americans in the entertainment business. The organization, known as Friends of Abe, began its activities in 2004. It was a stepping stone to Sinise’s eventual organization, though he didn’t realize it at the time.