HomeEntertainmentGary Sinise Reflects on Veterans Reaching Out to Him After Lieutenant Dan Role in ‘Forrest Gump’

Gary Sinise Reflects on Veterans Reaching Out to Him After Lieutenant Dan Role in ‘Forrest Gump’

by Samantha Whidden
Gary Sinise
(Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

Nearly 30 years after he appeared in Forrest Gump as Lieutenant Dan, Gary Sinise reflects on veterans reaching out to him after his iconic role. 

During his appearance on Jake’s Takes podcast earlier this week, Gary Sinise spoke about how the award-winning film and his character impacted his relationship with veterans. 

“When I played Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump, I got so many letters and people reaching out to me who were Vietnam veterans,” Sinise explained. He then said that the Disabled American Veterans Organization contacted him six weeks after the film opened in theaters. The organization asked him to attend its 1994 national convention in Chicago, which took place in August of that year. 

“I walked out on stage and there were 2,000 wounded veterans, going all the way to World War 2,” Sinise continued. “And they were applauding me for playing Lieutenant Dan.”

Gary Sinise stated that the experience “galvanized” his support for wounded veterans. He also said that he saw the power of what playing the wounded veteran actually has on people. The actor was so inspired by Forrest Gump and September 11th events that he launched his foundation.

The Gary Sinise Foundation is dedicated to veterans and offers a variety of programs, services, and events for wounded veterans. According to its website, the foundation is supported by more than 150,000 donors across the U.S. 

Gary Sinise Says Veterans Are Heroes Who Inspire a ‘Brighter Future’ 

In November 2022, Gary Sinise spoke to Fox News Digital about his mission to support U.S. veterans. He said that September 11th’s events are what inspired his mission. 

“For me personally, the events of September 11, 2001, are seared into my memory,” Gary Sinise explained. He then spoke about the nation’s collective grief as well as numbness and fear. The actor said he felt his heart breaking at the time. “It was through service work that I found healing for my broken heart. And I have continued that work ever since.”

Gary Sinise also said that supporting veterans, who he dubs the nation’s heroes, is his lifelong mission. He will continue to serve that mission faithfully. Sinise was awarded the “Service of Veterans” honor at the fourth annual Fox Nation Patriot Awards in November 2022. 

“It’s an honor to be recognized and the best part is that I get to, in turn, shine a light and recognize the true heroes who serve our country,” Sinise stated.

Sinise further spoke about his foundation and that its mission is a reflection of the needs he’s seen over the years while supporting other organizations.

He went on to share details about Lieutenant Dan’s happy ending story. “Before Forrest Gump, it was unusual for a Vietnam vet to have a hopeful conclusion,” the actor added. “But at the end of Lieutenant Dan’s story, after going through so much hardship, you know he is going to be all right.”