It’s been two decades since “Forrest Gump” debuted ~ above the silver display and almost a generation later, its characters still resonate through today’s business members.

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In the Academy Award-winning film, sublieutenant Dan Taylor, played by Gary Sinise, loses his foot in one ambush while offer in Vietnam. Persuaded he to be destined to dice in battle like his relatives, Lt. Dan blames title character Forrest Gump for saving his life. Living without legs creates a emotion of uselessness because that the character. In a key moment, Lt. Dan refers to himself as a “legless freak,” yelling in ~ Gump that he’ll never achieve his complete potential, and wonders the end loud, “What am i going to do now?”

Photo credit transaction photo by Joseph Andrew Lee

Gary Sinise rocks it out with the Lt. Dan Band on Fremont Street in Las Vegas for wounded troops and their families ~ above Nov. 9, 2013, during a free concert for wounded troops. 

Lieutenant Dan’s Story that hope

Reflecting top top his function in the film, Sinise stated Lieutenant Dan’s story provides hope in an otherwise cold situation.

“That specific story hadn’t really been seen. So as soon as you see the story that Lt. Dan, that’s a hopeful story for our … wounded veterans, because he’s a wounded combat veteran and also he is additionally able to be successful in life,” Sinise said. “He’s married at the end and he’s standing up on new legs. You never thought you’d watch him the end of the wheelchair.”

At the end of the movie, Gump is enthusiastic to view Lieutenant Dan—walking top top his new prosthetic legs—and his fiancé attend his wedding. And Lt. Dan is happy, regardless of his lengthy journey come recovery.

A Vietnam veteran’s experience

Sinise mentioned that Lt. Dan’s uplifting story of perseverance wasn’t usual in movies prior to “Forrest Gump.”

“That’s the exciting thing about that specific story. Before ‘Gump,’ you always had the question as to whether the Vietnam veteran to be going to be able to move beyond his … combat experience,” that said. “I’ve met a many Vietnam veterans over the years, and generally, they believed the depiction of the Vietnam war sequences in the movie to be well-done, and also they appreciated the story that Lt. Dan.”

Sinise, whose brother-in-law served two tours in Vietnam, saw firsthand just how troops coming ago struggled to adapt to life in ~ home. In countless ways, Vietnam veterans and also the country newest generation the veterans have similar reintegration experiences, and also he wants all veterans to recognize they room valued.

“I simply want them to know that they room appreciated and not forgotten,” Sinise said.

The Vietnam veterans in his family, and what occurred to them once they got captured in the politics battle, are large motivators for him, Sinise said.

Appreciating company members

Gary Sinise has made the his life’s work-related to make sure business members recognize they room appreciated. This came to be especially important to him after the September 11 attacks. He’s to be on number of handshake tours v the, where he learned that most members simply want who to hear to them.

“My an initial military hospital visit was actually at Landstuhl Medical center in Germany. It was my 3rd overseas tourism in so late August of 2003.”

He stated he to be a tiny apprehensive throughout that first hospital visit, but those concerns quickly faded when he began talking through the troops.

“I can just phone call it was nice to have actually somebody display up. In fact, there to be one guy I observed in a hospital bed in Landstuhl and also two weeks later on I witnessed him in a wheelchair going under the hallway at Walter Reed (in Washington, D.C.),” the said, adding it was an excellent to see how conveniently the injured organization members had evolved in their recovery.

“You’ll view somebody in a bed. Climate you go back three month later, and they are up on your prosthetic legs. That a hopeful thing to view them getting better.”

The Lt. Dan Band

Finding one enduring connection in between those the met top top tours and also his sublievenant Dan character—with which he has become synonymous in the military community—he formed the Lt. Dan tape in 2004. The band now performs almost 50 reflects a year for armed forces audiences.

“I can not have foreseen the the Lt. Dan character would certainly be a personality that has a life that its own beyond the movie,” the said. “I think part of that is because, as soon as I began working with the and also visiting ours hospitals and meeting this entire brand-new generation the amputees, the character and its relation to me became sort the a conversation piece with our wounded in the hospitals.”

“It’s to be a blessing and also a benefit to have the ability to have this association through wounded in our military community.”

Awe-Inspiring Resiliency

He’s additionally amazed in ~ the deal with of the family members of wounded company members and those who have lost love ones.

“We have actually 12 years’ worth of a brand-new generation of Lt. Dans out there and also thousands of gold star families that are suffering,” he said. “It’s remarkable to me … the resiliency the those people display. may be off the prior pages, yet the armed forces is 24/7, 365 work a year. They’re always out there defending united state … and their households are going through complicated times v these deployments.”

He had the opportunity to speak v a armed forces widow who shed her husband top top his eighth deployment. “She was just talking around how it virtually became eerily popular to just say goodbye to him for six months understanding that the worst could happen.”

The Gary Sinise Foundation

To increase his efforts on instead of of the military, the actor produced the Gary Sinise structure to respect our nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders and also their families. Its purpose is to sell supportive programming. Among the foundation’s programs—Building for America’s Bravest—provides tradition smart dwellings for severely wounded veterans.

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Sinise has actually been busy since his role as Lt. Dan, but he’s right now focused on his work with the military community.

“Now I have actually a mission and it’s felt favor it was a calling for me to have the ability to support our veteran community. That’s why I began my structure and it is why ns spend permanent on the now,” that said. “It requires a the majority of attention, and also thankfully there room a lot of civilization that space out there doing it. I’m just one of them.”