Academy Award-nominated actor Gary Sinise never forgot the harrowing stories he heard after he started visiting military veterans in hospitals. Jason Ross’s was one of those stories.
Ross, who is now retired from the U.S. Marine Corps, served as an Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) expert in Afghanistan. In the midst of his second deployment, an IED struck Ross. The extent of his injuries was such that doctors had to amputate both his legs and part of his pelvic bone. In total, Ross has since been through more than 240 surgeries.
Thanks to the Gary Sinise Foundation, Ross now lives in a smart home tailored to his needs. Ross moved into his new smart home in 2015, per the foundation’s website. But now AARP has released a documentary about Ross’s situation and Sinise’s efforts to help.
New Documentary Shows How Gary Sinise Foundation Helps Veterans
In the documentary, Ross recalls the traumatic moment when he was running and suddenly heard a loud bang. He fell down, then passed out, and as he came to, he stared at his hands. Smoke was coming out of his gloves. That can’t be good, Ross thought.
“In a nutshell, whenever someone finds a device or an unexploded ordinance, we go in, and then we will do our utmost best to disarm it,” Ross explained of his job as an EOD expert. “Some of the best advice I got was, when you’re going down range to go take care of whatever needs to be taken care of, stop thinking, ‘Oh, I might die.’ You’re already dead.”
For his part, Sinise said he was totally taken aback by the severity of Ross’s injuries when he met him in the hospital. He looked at Ross and told the soldier he was a living miracle.
“It’s a dangerous business, defending our country,” Sinise said. “It’s hard to imagine anyone surviving [what Ross went through].”
Watch the documentary on the Gary Sinise Foundation’s gift to Ross here:
Foundation Was Founded in 2011
“Forrest Gump,” the film in which Sinise plays Lieutenant Dan, a veteran who lost his legs in the Vietnam War, came out in 1994. In 2011, Sinise founded the Gary Sinise Foundation. The nonprofit aims to do something about stories like Ross’s, stories Sinise has heard again and again while visiting wounded soldiers in hospitals.
Since 2011, the foundation has built 74 special smart homes for injured veterans. It has also brought over half a million meals to veterans and sent out more than 300 relief grants to first responders.
Sinise said that as he got to know injured veterans, he became less interested in discussing their traumas and more interested in chatting about the next phase of their lives. In Ross’s case, that next phase involves getting around on his power chair and caring for his two daughters. And with the help of his smart home, that next phase of his life has gotten a little bit easier.