Acclaimed actor Gary Sinise is giving away “forever homes” to veterans through his foundation, the Gary Sinise Foundation. Sinise founded the charity in 2011. It aims to tackle the gaps in care that veterans often face.
“Life can be very, very challenging for somebody in a wheelchair,” Sinise told Fox News on Veterans Day. “It can be very, very difficult just trying to function in an apartment or a small house that’s not built for somebody with physical challenges like that.”
So Sinise’s foundation has launched the Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment (RISE) program. RISE supplies mortgage-free smart houses to wounded veterans. The program oversees smart home modifications. It also provides adapted vehicles and mobility devices to veterans and first responders.
“What we try to do is provide everything that you could possibly think of that would help to make the life of the veteran and the family be more independent,” the actor explained.
Gary Sinise Oversees a Team of Builders
Sinise’s foundation has recruited a team of builders to help make those mortgage-free smart homes happen. They all go to injured, ill or aging veterans and first responders. And the builders work to customize each home for the veteran who will live in it, taking into account the veteran’s various disabilities and injuries.
“We have a wonderful team of builders,” Sinise said. “We formed a team of builders years ago. And we’ve been able to pay them to come and support this project. So they have done this multiple times and they know all the scenarios. They’ve been through so many different things with so many veterans that they can really reflect each individual veteran into that home. So it becomes kind of their forever home, a place where they are going to be independent and free and strong in their mortgage-free houses. So we take the stress off.”
Sinise was inspired to do all this by his visits to hospitals to meet wounded veterans. In talking to them about their stories, he realized there was a need to do more. The advances of modern medicine have enabled soldiers to survive gruesome battlefield injuries. But that has resulted in more disabled veterans returning home from recent wars.
Since its launch in 2011, the Gary Sinise Foundation has built 74 new smart homes for veterans.
Afghanistan IED Survivor Is Among Those Sinise Helped
Jason Ross is one former soldier who benefited from the foundation’s efforts. The retired Marine served as an Explosive Ordinance Disposal expert in Afghanistan. He lost both his legs and part of his pelvic bone to an IED in Afghanistan. And since returning home, he’s survived more than 240 surgeries.
The foundation completed Ross’s smart home in 2015. It’s tailored to the needs of the veteran, who gets around on a motorized scooter and whose parents are helping him move on with his life.
“I looked at Jason and I said, ‘Well, you are a miracle,’” Sinise once recalled of meeting Ross. “We wanted to support Jason in his recovery, moving forward, and take the stress away.”
“Everything is set up very specifically,” Ross added. He explained that the house is designed with wide hallways and low counters. And his parents’ abode is attached to his living space for both of their convenience. Ross’s father, for his part, said that Sinise has made them feel like they are living in a dream.
“People like Jason are the reason I started the Gary Sinise Foundation,” Sinise said.