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The actor lends support to America's troops through the USO

By Jennifer Garcia
Updated May 07, 2015 05:20 PM
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Robert Patrick has always been a patriot.

“My family s history [in the armed forces] goes back to the Revolutionary War; my grandfather, cousins, uncle – it s in my blood,” the Scorpion actor tells PEOPLE. “When I was a kid, it was always a dream of mine to go on a USO tour; now my involvement has spanned over a decade.”

Having traveled all over the world with the USO, whose mission it is to lift the spirits of America s troops and their families, Patrick, 56, still remembers each trip like it was yesterday.

“I have clear pictures in my head of the day I arrived in Iraq on one of the tours. Meeting these young adults, some who can t legally drink a beer but they re fighting on our behalf, is profound,” he says.

Patrick was also struck by the scale of what’s been created abroad: “To see how they built the bases, to see the enormity of construction and the development of infrastructure that that goes into everything, is quite impressive just on logistics alone.”

On another, incredibly emotional trip to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, Patrick recalls one man in particular.

“One individual that I met had lost both legs and both arms,” he says. “All he kept saying over and over was, ‘I just want to get back and be with my men.’ I think that s awe-inspiring.”

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For the veteran actor, what America’s troops do is something that will never be lost on him.

“These troops are willing to put their life on the line for the love of their country and to protect the freedom you and I share,” he says. That’s something.”

For more of our interview with Patrick, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday