PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Actor Gary Sinise is known for many different roles on-screen, but none is more important to him than his real-life role of supporting wounded veterans of war.
One of the veterans that Sinise is helping is a local man from Vandergrift who is coming home this weekend after spending two years in a military hospital in Florida.
These days people know Sinise as detective Mac Taylor on the hit CBS show CSI: NY.
But for many of his military fans, he’ll always be known as Lt. Dan, the no-nonsense war officer in the movie “Forrest Gump” who lost both legs in Vietnam.
“I had been involved with Vietnam veterans groups prior to playing that character in the movie, so I was very eager to play it and very lucky to have gotten the opportunity to do it,” said Sinise.
Sinise gave that character’s name to his music group, the Lt. Dan band. The band tours the world to raise money for military veterans who need help getting their lives back on track.
“We have so many severely wounded that need attention and are going to have special needs for the rest of their lives because of the service to our country,” Sinise said.
The Lt. Dan Band will be in Pittsburgh at Stage AE in August to raise money for Vandergrift native, Sgt. Doug Vitale.
Vitale lost both legs and a suffered traumatic brain injury in an IED explosion while serving in Afghanistan.
He is one of more than 50 wounded soldiers who will get a new “smart house” thanks to Sinise’s charity “Building for America’s Bravest.”
These smart homes will be customized to ease the day-to-day challenges Vitale and his family face.
“We want this home to be conducive and supportive to make their lives more manageable and more independent,” Sinise said. “I think as an American citizen, who benefits from the freedom they provide, there’s a way that I can show my support by getting out there and bringing awareness and raising some money and doing some good and make sure they have a happy life going forward.”
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