The actor has long been a supporter of veterans, with the Gary Sinise Foundation raising millions of dollars annually

By Helen Murphy
October 31, 2019 02:45 PM
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Gary Sinise band

Gary Sinise is once again showing his support for America’s veterans.

On Sunday, the Forrest Gump actor, 64, and his Lt. Dan Band played a sold-out show to “thousands” of veterans in a retirement community in Sumter County, Florida, according to a blog post from the Gary Sinise Foundation’s website.

Sinise, who famously played Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump, started his foundation in 2011 in order to raise money for veterans. The organization now raises $30 million annually — 90% of which goes toward the organization’s programs, like building specially adapted smart homes for severely disabled vets and bringing military families to Disney World.

The foundation also shared photos of Sunday’s concert to Instagram on Wednesday, sharing that the band was “the hottest ticket in town last weekend.”

The retirement community where Sinise’s band performed at is “home to the largest concentration of veterans living outside a U.S. military base,” the caption explained, adding that it includes “generations of service members from WWII to the latest conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Gary Sinise band
Gary Sinise
| Credit: Gary Sinise Foundation/Instagram
Gary Sinise band
Credit: Gary Sinise Foundation/Instagram

Earlier this year, Sinise opened up to PEOPLE about his four decades of making a difference for military veterans and first responders.

“I’ve found that service is the best way to heal,” he told PEOPLE.

“If every person in every neighborhood around the country took a little bit of responsibility for patting these folks on the back, all the problems that we hear about with regards to veterans not getting services or falling through the cracks would disappear,” he said at the time. “If citizens would look at their freedom providers in a little bit different way.”

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Gary Sinise
| Credit: Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

Landing the role of Lt. Dan in 1994’s Oscar-winning movie Forrest Gump helped open up the opportunity for Sinise to give back in a major way, beginning with appearances at military conventions and later full USO tours.

“He’s more than a character in a movie,” Sinise wrote in his 2019 book Grateful American. “To these veterans, he has become a symbol of awareness for our country’s collective awareness of all our injured veterans, especially the Vietnam veteran.”

The love for the caustic, paraplegic character “has grown beyond anything I could ever imagine,” he said.