Academy Award-nominated actor Gary Sinise’s connection to the military didn't stop with his scene-stealing role as Lieutenant Dan in "Forrest Gump.”
Helping wounded service members – like the double amputee he played in 1994 critically acclaimed film – has become a lifelong passion for Sinise, even as his career turned to other projects like “CSI: NY.”
His efforts have often turned toward San Diego, as they did Saturday at Naval Medical Center San Diego.
There, the Gary Sinise Foundation hosted the day-long “Invincible Spirit Festival.”
The goal: To honor and celebrate wounded, ill and injured service members, as well as their families and medical caregivers.
Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band grabbed their instruments and played their hearts out alongside a barbecue cookout by British celebrity Chef Robert Irvine, known as his turn on Food Network shows “Dinner: Impossible,” “Restaurant: Impossible” and more.
Families were also treated to a rock climbing wall, bounce houses, face painting and giveaways.
Sinise's band has eclectic tastes, covering hits from Stevie Wonder to Adele, the Zac Brown Band and more. The more unlikely the songs, the more entertaining the performance as members hope to boost morale on military bases both in the states and overseas.
For his active involvement with wounded troops and the USO, Sinise has often earned the nickname “The New Bob Hope.”
His foundation’s work encompasses programs for service members, veterans, first responders and families.